Environmental Management Systems

Environmental Management Systems

An Environmental Management System, such as ISO 14001, is based on a very simple premise: general management concepts.  A common management technique commonly referred to is the plan-do-check-act method.  This model is utilized widely for continuous improvement within an organization and also aids to those wishing to start a new improvement project.  Planning is the approach method, which includes analyzing the current state and developing movements to go forward, based on current needs.  This stage includes forecasting the goals of the organization.

The “Do” method is the execution of the plan.  This is where the organization will not only lay the plan into action but also educate those who are necessary to be involved.  “Checking” is the third management component, where a formal assessment is done over a set amount of time.  This assessment will evaluate the actions set out by the plan and make any necessary changes.  The "Act" is the final stage in this process, where goals are met, and methods are standardized. 

This is a cycle plan and has no end.  The plan-do-check-act method will start over once it is complete unless there is no improvement necessary.  In environmental management, improvement is rarely unnecessary.  Committed organizations and their contractors, vendors, and suppliers make mistakes and learn from them, reducing and mitigating future similar problems.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are stand-alone, auditable environmental standards that can be maintained.  The idea behind EMS is that the organization will have a standard framework of management concepts to improve environmental interaction within a company.  These frameworks are usually kept simple so that every employee in the different tiers of the organization can understand and help maintain the system and implementation is relatively easy. 

The ISO 14001 certification is an international Environmental Management System that is published with standards.  ISO 14001 can be gained through an accredited agency that can certify for the standards.  It is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful, worldwide, without overlooking environmental responsibilities, and it can help the company grow while reducing the environmental impact of its growth. 

The components of the Environmental Management Systems are similar to the plan-do-check-act components.  The only difference is that the organization will be basing the components off of environmental policy and adding the implementation of the system into the cycle.  It would begin with a review by management of the existing environmental foundation and impact.  Things to consider during this phase would be what the organization has in place already that might meet the current standards for ISO 14001.  Based on the management review, the next phase would include the creation of environmental policy.  The environmental policy outlines the aims of the organization with regard to the environment.

The U.S. Department of Energy once warned major contractors that it would be in their best interest to have in place an Environmental Management System modeled after ISO 14001 in order to retain contracts.  ISO 14001 is not a requirement or a set of standards, but rather a certified framework to help organizations maintain compliance as well as avoid liabilities associated with non-compliance.  ISO 14001 series certifications are said to have significant legal implications and a broader stakeholder base.  Concerns have been raised on whether these standards will impose barriers to trade internationally.  These certifications may direct businesses and organizations to only trade with other certified vendors, making its importance a matter of business as well as compliance. 

In today’s world, a company’s impact on the environment is becoming increasingly important.  Environmental factors are taken into consideration when dealing with trade on a global scale and are under deep review by global politics.  In order for a company to succeed in the global economy, compliance with regards to the environment must be continuously improved and exceeded.

Appruv can help your organization achieve an effective Environmental Management System by sourcing outside contractors, vendors, and suppliers that meet your unique environmental thresholds and goals. 

References

British Standards Institution. (2016). ISO 14001 Environmental Management. Retrieved from http://www.bsigroup.com/en-US/ISO-14001-Environmental-Management/

Caroline G. Hemenway. 10 things you should know about ISO 14000. Retrieved from http://www.qualitydigest.com/oct/iso14000.html

Nancy R. Tague. (2004). The quality toolbox. Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press.

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