Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Updated standards on the way for Environmental Management

ISO 14001 logoA milestone has been reached in the development of a new draft of the standard many city administrations will be familiar with for helping to ensure the environmental quality of their infrastructure and operations: ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems (EMS).

The first formal draft produced by the expert committee tasked with bringing the standard up-to-date describes the potential requirements of the revised version of ISO 14001 and gives an indication of what might be included in the final version of the standard scheduled, which will be published in one year's time. The last draft dates from 2004. The committee is composed of representatives of national standards organisations from up to 91 countries.

ISO standards 14000 through to 14064 plus ISO 19001 constitute a family of standards related to environmental management that exists to help organizations minimize how their operations (processes, etc.) negatively affect the environment, comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements, plus put in place a methodology to continually improve management. The standards are voluntary.

The ISO 14001 process

Its aim is to set out the criteria for an environmental management system (EMS), providing a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective EMS. It can be used by any organization that wants to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, and drive down costs, and is used in many public administrations and their suppliers as a condition of procurement contracts.

Using ISO 14001 can provide assurance to management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.

ISO 14001 is currently being reviewed. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has identified the following emerging changes to ISO 14001 as a result of the revision:

  1. Strategic Environmental Management
  2. Leadership
  3. Protecting the environment
  4. Environmental performance
  5. Life-cycle thinking
  6. Communication
  7. Documentation
Strategic Environmental Management
There is a new requirement to understand the context of the organisation implementing the standard in order to factor in relevant external and internal issues. Particular focus is on the needs and expectations of interested parties that can affect, or be affected by, the organisation. In this context the organisation should identify risks associated with threats and opportunities, significant environmental aspects and compliance obligations and determine actions to address them within the EMS.

Leadership: Commitment to environmental management
A new clause has been added with specific responsibilities for top management to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to environmental management. This is because having senior management buy in is a surefire way to ensure the policies become embedded in the organisation.

From prevention to protection
Environmental policy adopted by organisations should include a commitment to the “protection of the environment”. There is no definition about this but it includes “prevention of pollution” and other commitments such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.

Improving environmental performance
The emphasis is now on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. The organisation shall determine criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using appropriate indicators.

Life-cycle thinking
Organisations will need to extend their control and influence to the environmental impacts from raw material acquisition/generation to end-of-life treatment. This does not imply a requirement to carry out a life-cycle assessment, but it is obviously advantageous to do so in order to maximise resource efficiency and minimise costs, wastage, etc.

Equal emphasis on external and internal communications has been added. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organisation but taking into account its compliance obligations.

The term “documented information”, is used instead of “documents” and “records”. The organisation has the flexibility to determine when “procedures” are needed.

Today there are over 300,000 organisations around the world implementing the standard and you might be surprised to learn that China is one of the most enthusiastic holder of certificates. In 2012 the top three countries for the total number of certificates issued were China, Japan and Italy, while the top three for growth in the number of certificates were China, Spain and Italy.

That year experienced a growth of 9% (+ 23,887) in the issuance of certificates, in 167 countries, nine more than in the previous year.

My books:
are both designed to help with reaching the related standard ISO 50001 for energy management. Click on the links for more information.

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