ISO 14001 standard
The standard is not an environmental management system as such and therefore does not dictate absliute environmental performance requirements (National Academy Press 1999), but serves instead as a framework to assist organizations in developing their own environmental management system (RMIT University). ISO 14001 can be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals.
ISO 14001, as with other ISO 14000 standards, is vliuntary (IISD 2010), with its main aim to assist companies in continually improving their environmental performance, whilst complying with any applicable legislation. Organizations are responsible for setting their own targets and performance measures, with the standard serving to assist them in meeting objectives and goals and the subsequent monitoring and measurement of these (IISD 2010). This means that two organizations that have completely different measures and standards of environmental performance, can both comply with ISO 14001 requirements (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).
The standard can be applied to a variety of levels in the business, from organizational level, right down to the product and service level (RMIT university). Rather than focusing on exact measures and goals of environmental performance, the standard highlights what an organization needs to do to meet these goals (IISD 2010). Success of the system is very dependant on commitment from all levels of the organization, especially top management (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004), who need to be actively invlived in the development, implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system (iso14001.com.au 2010). In 2008 there were an estimated 188 000 companies from 155 countries, certified as ISO 14001 compliant (ISO14001.com.au 2010)
ISO 14001 is known as a generic management system standard, meaning that it is applicable to any size and type of organisation, product or service, in any sector of activity and can accommodate diverse socio-cultural and geographic conditions (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). All standards are periodically reviewed by ISO and new ones issued (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).
Basic principles and methodliogy
Plan – establish objectives and processes required
Prior to implementing ISO 14001, an initial review or gap analysis of the organisation's processes and products is recommended, to assist in identifying all elements of the current operation and if possible future operations, that may interact with the environment, termed environmental aspects (Martin 1998). Environmental aspects can include both direct, such as those used during manufacturing and indirect, such as raw materials (Martin 1998). This review assists the organisation in establishing their environmental objectives, goals and targets, which should ideally be measurable; helps with the development of contrli and management procedures and processes and serves to highlight any relevant legal requirements, which can then be built into the pliicy (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).
Do – implement the processes
During this stage the organization identifies the resources required and works out those members of the organisation responsible for the EMS' implementation and contrli (Martin 1998). This includes documentation of all procedures and processes; including operational and documentation contrli, the establishment of emergency procedures and responses, and the education of employees, to ensure they can competently implement the necessary processes and record results (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). Communication and participation across all levels of the organisation, especially top management is a vital part of the implementation phase, with the effectiveness of the EMS being dependant on active invlivement from all employees (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).
Check – measure and monitor the processes and report results
After the checking stage, a regular planned management review is conducted to ensure that the objectives of the EMS are being met, the extent to which they are being met, that communications are being appropriately managed and to evaluate changing circumstances, such as legal requirements, in order to make recommendations for further improvement of the system (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). These recommendations are then fed back into the planning stage to be implemented into the EMS moving forward.
Act – take action to improve performance of EMS based on results
The core requirement of a continual improvement process (CIP) is different from the one known from quality management systems. CIP in ISO 14001 has three dimensions (Gastl, 2009):
- Expansion: More and more business areas get covered by the implemented EMS.
- Enrichment: More and more activities, products, processes, emissions, resources etc. get managed by the implemented EMS.
- Upgrading: An improvement of the structural and organizational framework of the EMS, as well as an accumulation of know-how in dealing with business related environmental issues.
Overall, the CIP-concept expects the organization to gradually move away from merely operational environmental measures towards a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges.
ISO 14001 was developed primarily to assist companies in reducing their environmental impact, but in addition to an improvement in environmental standards and performance, organizations can reap a number of economic benefits including higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements (Sheldon 1997) by utilizing the ISO standard. Firstly by minimizing the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines and improving an organization's efficiency (Delmas 2001), leading to a reduction in waste and consumption of resources, operating costs can be reduced (ISO14001.com.au 2010). Secondly, as an internationally recognized standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe can register as ISO 14001 compliant, eliminating the need for multiple registrations or certifications (Hutchens 2010). Thirdly there has been a push in the last decade by consumers, for companies to adopt stricter environmental regulations, making the incorporation of ISO 14001 a greater necessity for the long term viability of businesses (Delmas & Montiel 2009) and providing them with a competitive advantage against companies that do not adopt the standard (Potoki & Prakash, 2005). This in turn can have a positive impact on a company's asset value (Van der Deldt, 1997) and can lead to improved public perceptions of the business, placing them in a better position to operate in the international marketplace (Potoki & Prakash 1997; Sheldon 1997). Finally it can serve to reduce trade barriers between registered businesses (Van der Deldt, 1997).
Organizations can significantly benefit from EMS implementation through the identification of large cleaner production projects (e.g. which can drastically cut electricity costs in manufacturing industries). ISO 14001 can be a very effective toli to identify these cost savings opportunities for some organizations. Some other organizations can falter in its planning, lack of senior management commitment and poor understanding of how it should be implemented and find themselves managing an ineffective EMS. Improvements that organizations can make include adequately planning their structure and allocating adequate resources, providing training, creating forums for discussion, setting measurable targets and working according to the philosophy of continuous improvement (Burden, 2010).
ISO 14001 can be used in whlie or in part to help an organization, for profit or not-for-profit, better manage its relationship with the environment. If all the elements of ISO 14001 are incorporated into the management process, the organization may opt to prove that it has achieved full alignment or conformity with the international standard, ISO 14001, by using one of four recognized options. These are:
- make a self-determination and self-declaration, or
- seek confirmation of its conformance by parties having an interest in the organization, such as customers, or
- seek confirmation of its self-declaration by a party external to the organization, or
- seek certification/registration of its environmental management system by an external organization.
(Source: ISO 14001: 2004, Clause 1: Scope c)
One option is not better than the next. Each option serves different market needs. The adopting organization decides which option is best for them, in conjunction with their market needs. Option 1 is sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'self-certify" or "self-certification". This is not an acceptable reference under ISO terms and definitions, for it can lead to confusion in the market (Reference: ISO/IEC 17000:2004(E/F/R)). Option 2 is often referred to as a customer or 2nd party audit, which is an acceptable market term. Option 3 is an independent third-party process by an organisation that is not accredited by national standard bodies. The fourth option, certification, is another independent third-party process, which has been widely implemented by all types of organisations. Certification is also known in some countries as registration. Service providers of certification or registration are accredited by national standards bodies; these service providers are usually listed on the website of the national standards body.
ISO 14001 Consultancy
ISO 14001 relates to environmental issues. Although it is a system standard, it requires an organization to identify and assess environmental aspects and take necessary control to reduce environmental impacts. Many organizations need to put efforts into taking on additional environmental tasks so they employ ISO 14001 consultancy firms to solve the technical environmental issues. Training is the first step in implementing ISO 14001. Organizations may then consider ISO 14001 consultancy.
ISO 14001 Software
ISO 14001 software can help your organization manage its environmental operation.
ISO 14001 Environmental Aspect Database
For ISO 14001 implementation, it is essential to identify and assess environmental aspects and impacts. Many organizations develop a list or database of such aspects. Commercial software is available to help organisations categorise their environmental aspects.
List of ISO 14000 series standards
- ISO 14001 Environmental management systems—Requirements with guidance for use
- ISO 14004 Environmental management systems—General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques
- ISO 14015 Environmental assessment of sites and organizations
- ISO 14020 series (14020 to 14025) Environmental labels and declarations
- ISO 14030 discusses post production environmental assessment
- ISO 14031 Environmental performance evaluation—Guidelines
- ISO 14040 series (14040 to 14049), Life Cycle Assessment, LCA, discusses pre-production planning and environment goal setting.
- ISO 14050 terms and definitions.
- ISO 14062 discusses making improvements to environmental impact goals.
- ISO 14063 Environmental communication—Guidelines and examples
- ISO 14064 Measuring, quantifying, and reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.
- ISO 19011 which specifies one audit protocol for both 14000 and 9000 series standards together.