Utilizing of this environmental management standard has spread dramatically around the world since its introduction in 1996. Environmental regulations on hazardous waste disposal at both the local and national levels became more stringent. This forced companies to change the method for hazardous-waste disposal from placement in a landfill to treatment and recycling. As a result, the cost for hazardous waste disposal increased significantly.
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a framework that helps a company achieves its environmental goals through consistent control of its operations. The assumption is that this increased control will improve the environmental performance of the company.
The ISO 14000 family of standards addresses various aspects of environmental management.
The first two standards, ISO 14004 and ISO 14001which released in 1996 that deals with environmental management systems (EMS). An EMS is a structured approach to setting and achieving environmental objectives and to demonstrating that they have been achieved. ISO 14004 includes guidelines on the goals of an EMS. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements needed for the success of such an EMS. An EMS based on these standards enables an organization of any size or type to control the impact of its activities, products or services on the environment.
1. Commitment and Policy
Top management commits to environmental improvement and establishes a company environmental policy. The policy is the foundation of the EMS.
A company first identifies environmental aspects of its operations. Environmental aspects are those items, such as air pollutants or hazardous waste that can have negative impacts on people and/or the environment. A company then determines which aspects are significant by choosing criteria considered most important by the company. For example, a company may choose worker health and safety, environmental compliance, and cost as its criteria. Once significant environmental aspects are determined, a company sets objectives and targets. An objective is an overall environmental goal (e.g., minimize use of chemicals
A company follows through with the action plan using the necessary resources (human, financial, etc.). An important component is employee training and awareness for all employees. Other steps in the implementation stage include documentation, following operating procedures, and setting up internal and external communication lines.
A company monitors its operations to evaluate whether targets are being met. If not, the company takes corrective action.
Top management reviews the results of the evaluation to see if the EMS is working. Management determines whether the original environmental policy is consistent with company values. The plan is then revised to optimize the effectiveness of the EMS. The review stage creates a loop of continuous improvement for a company.
An ISO 14001 EMS helps a company address its regulatory demands in a systematic and cost-effective manner. This proactive approach can help reduce the risk of non-compliance and improve health and safety practices for employees and the public.An EMS can also help address non-regulated issues, such as energy conservation, and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship.
• Reduced cost of waste management
• Savings in consumption of energy and materials
• Lower distribution costs
• Improved corporate image
• Continuous environmental improvement