ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS)
WHAT IS A MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
A management system is the way in which an organization manages the interrelated parts of its business in order to achieve its objectives or business objectives. These objectives can relate to a number of different topics, including product or service quality, operational efficiency, environmental performance, health, and safety in the workplace and many more.
The level of complexity of the system will depend on each organization’s specific context. For some organizations, especially smaller ones, it may simply mean having strong leadership from the business owner, providing a clear definition of what is expected from each individual employee and how they contribute to the organization’s overall objectives, without the need for extensive documentation. More complex businesses operating, for example, in highly regulated sectors, may need extensive documentation and controls in order to fulfill their legal obligations and meet their organizational objectives.
WHAT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
ISO 14001 Standard requires identification of processes within the organizational context. The processes can be identified using the functional groups/departments and then dissecting within each functional group their processes using the workflow. Once the processes have been identified, ISO 14001 Standard requires prioritization of processes using some sort of risk-assessments. Such risk-based approach assists an organization in developing a focus through categorization of risks as high, medium, or low.
An environmental management system helps organizations identify, manage, monitor, and control their environmental issues in a “holistic” manner. ISO 14001 is suitable for organizations of all types and sizes, be they private, not-for-profit, or governmental. It requires that an organization considers all environmental issues relevant to its operations, such as air pollution, water and sewage issues, waste management, soil contamination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resource use and efficiency. Like all ISO management system standards, ISO 14001 includes the need for continual improvement of an organization’s systems and approach to environmental concerns. In addition, the ISO 14001 Standard provides increased prominence of environmental management within the organization’s strategic planning processes, greater input from leadership and a stronger commitment to proactive initiatives that boost environmental performance.
Recognized globally, the ISO 14001 management standard will offer organizations a trustworthy framework enabling consistency in OH&S management practices. It aligns with other ISO management standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and can contribute to an organization’s development of a coherent set of management practices across all facets of its operation.
WHAT BENEFITS WILL IT BRING TO MY BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION?
There are many reasons why an organization should take a strategic approach to improving its environmental performance. Users of the standard have reported that ISO 14001 helps:
- Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements
- Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees
- Improve company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication
- Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management
- Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs
- Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization’s business systems