Environmental management is no longer something that is optional for the organisation. Stricter legislation, international pressure for reduction of the human environmental footprint, and the increasing demand of customers for reduction of pressure on natural resources are factors that have contributed to the popularity of ISO 14001. Companies must take the appropriate steps to reduce the effects of their actions on the environment and to minimise environmental risks. There must be policies and procedures in place for management of such risks and corrective actions to prevent recurrences of accidents.
ISO 14001 is the internationally accepted standard that provides a framework for effective implementation of an environmental management system (EMS). Companies that have implemented ISO 14001-compliant environmental management systems have benefitted from reduced waste, lower environmental impact, and reduced risk of serious damage to the environment related to pollution. Implementation of an ISO 14001-compliant environmental management system also gives an organisation a competitive edge over peer companies that have yet to comply. The organisation shows responsible corporate governance and this can help to improve brand image.
It has been widely viewed as a means to improve profitability of the organisation, as wastage can be significantly reduced. With optimal usage of resources and more control over cost management related to waste, companies can save on costs. There are thus several reasons why your company should consider the development and implementation of an ISO 14001-compliant environmental management system. Considering that a management system provides you with a framework within which your organisation can optimise management of people and resources, in addition to processes to reduce your environmental impact, you will agree that having a structure according to which you can manage helps to ensure effectiveness. This also helps your organisation operate within the boundaries of the law and thus to ensure a positive public image.
Organisations have reported benefits such as:
- Increase in financial performance.
- Improved environmental product performance.
- Increase in average profitability.
- Reduction in costs.
- More opportunities for growth in the public sector.
- Reduced risk of permit and environmental violations.
The standard is applicable to any size company, regardless of the industry or environment in which it operates. Even smaller businesses can implement and benefit from an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.
The main areas covered by the standard include:
- Development, implementation, and improvement of the EMS according to ISO 14001 requirements.
- Following a systematic approach to ensure ongoing improvement of the organisation’s environmental performance.
- Ability to show that the required processes are in place for effective measurement, documentation, reporting, and corrective actions regarding environmental management.
The planning phase entails the setting up of an environmental policy to ensure that top management is committed and involved. Part of the process entails identification of environmental aspects over which the organisation has control, and the possible impact of actions on the environment. It is also imperative to identify and comply with the various environmental laws in the country. This entails keeping up with changes in legislation.
One of the important aspects of ISO 14001 is to develop and implement documented objectives in line with the organisation’s environmental policies. It is essential to assign responsibility for achievement of the objectives. Once the planning phase has been completed, it is time to implement the EMS. This means you have to ensure that senior management is involved and a management representative is appointed to take responsibility for reporting on the organisation’s environmental management performance, as related to the requirements of ISO 14001.
All employees must be made aware of the requirements and must understand their roles in minimising the organisation’s environmental impact. This entails workshops and training programmes. Effective procedures must be put in place for communication and documentation in addition to reporting systems. Meticulous record keeping is essential and updates must be made on a timely basis. Operational control must be in place to ensure that suppliers also adhere to the environmental management guidelines. It is furthermore essential to have policies and plans for dealing with environmental emergency situations.
How We Can Be of Assistance
We provide your organisation assistance in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of an ISO 14001 EMS and assist with internal and external audits, in addition to preparation for certification. We furthermore help you identify training needs and offer various courses specifically to address the training requirements.