ISO 14001 - Environmental Management System (EMS)

As you aim to achieve your  sustainability goals and stakeholders trust, having a proper ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System (EMS) will vastly improve your organisational capabilities.

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ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management System (EMS)

Our experienced team of in-house ISO consultants can plan and guide you through this process smoothly, covering critical areas for your company, as follows, to ensure you are well-established.

What is ISO 14001 certification?

ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System (EMS) is an international standard that aims to aid organisations to achieve environmental sustainability. It helps by striking a balance between the environment, society and economy, the three pillars of corporate sustainability. Environmental management systems provide frameworks to protect the environment and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

The purpose of this standard is to provide a systematic approach, contributing to the sustainable development of the organisation by:

  • Protecting the environment by assessing any environmental impact and then preventing and mitigating them;
  • Mitigating the possible adverse effects of environmental conditions on the organisation;
  • Assisting the organisation to fulfil compliance obligations;
  • Having control and influence of your organisation’s methods to design, manufacture, distribute, consume and dispose of products and services preventing environmental impacts;
  • Improving environmental performance;
  • Communicating the environmental information to interested parties; and
  • Attaining financial and operational benefits from implementing an environmental management system.
 

Between 2019 and 2020, the ISO Survey of Certifications reported an increase of about 12% in ISO 14001 certification, bringing the total number of valid certificates to 348,473 for the 568,798 sites globally. Looking at just ISO 14001, Singapore has about 769 organisations with valid certificates thus far.

Due to the strict regulations enforced in Singapore by the National Environment Agency (NEA), organisations may be penalised for the breach of these regulations. Read up our article on Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) in Singapore to understand how implementing an ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System benefits your organisation.

At the end of this article, you will be able to:

  1. Grasp a better understanding of ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management System – Requirements with guidance for use

  2. Understand more about the process of ISO 14001:2015 certification

  3. Learn the benefits of having ISO 14001:2015 certification for your organisation

Benefits of ISO 14001 certification

There are numerous benefits that organisations can obtain from being ISO 14001 certified. Here are the key benefits of having robust environmental management systems:

Legal compliance

By being ISO 14001 certified, organisations can comply with legal regulations. Abiding by legal regulations would mean avoiding hefty fines and negative press from the government and public, respectively. This is critical in reducing costs and maintaining/improving the organisation’s brand image.

Reduce wastage of resources and environmental incidents

The ISO 14001 standard aims to help organisations reduce their waste production and potential environmental incidents by identifying, controlling, improving and eliminating inefficient organisational processes with high environmental risks and waste production.

An example of how ISO 14001 can help your company is cultivating a robust internal employee training program. Employees are taught the correct techniques to operate machinery. Proper operation of machinery will result in increased resource efficiency, reduced wastage, and lower chances of environmental pollution, thus reducing overall operating costs.

Increased confidence in consumers and various stakeholders

According to a Statista survey, more consumers are ‘going green’ in recent years, which means that consumers are now more scrutinising towards product sources and carbon footprints.

For an organisation, being ISO 14001 certified will provide assurance to consumers that their products are environmentally friendly and sustainable. This would increase consumers’ receptivity and purchasing intention, thus indirectly benefiting businesses through higher sales volume and improved brand image.

Smoother process when implementing changes and improvement of processes

ISO 14001 certification helps organisations by providing organised, systematic, and robust environmental management systems that facilitate the collection of vital company data that are required for analysis.

Through the collection of quality data, companies can make better analysis and decisions in terms of implementing changes and improvement on current processes.

Improve competitive advantage and financial advantage

The benefits listed above will collectively ensure that an organisation can obtain competitive and financial advantage compared to a competitor who is not ISO 14001 certified. There are many more benefits of environmental management systems, if you would like to know more feel free to contact our team!

ISO 14001 certification process

The certification process usually involves designing and implementing an environmental management system (EMS) that follows ISO’s best practices. It must address issues related to the environmental aspects of a business. An auditor must perform a full audit from a certification body to assess its environmental performance and effectiveness.

The estimated duration for obtaining certification can be from six months to a year, depending on the size and complexity of your organisation. To pass the audit, an extensive amount of documentation must be checked and verified by the auditor; thus, having a centralised database that collects and records all documentation (Procedures, manuals, emergency plans, checklists, records, etc.) is strongly recommended.

Stendard Solution™ is our proprietary software solution that stores important company documents for you and includes a multitude of functions to assist your organisation in implementing a robust quality management system. To find out more, contact us!

Cost to getting ISO 14001 certified

The costs required to get ISO 14001 certified varies from different organisations depending on their unique operational requirements. Contact us, and one of our experts will get back to you as soon as possible!

Stendard ISO 14001 Consultants in Singapore

1.

Understanding your organisation’s business, products and services through conducting management review;

2.

Identifying gaps in your existing processes (if any) and recommending ways for improvements to any current ISO standards that your organisation is complying to;

3.

Preparing all the required documentation from the manual, procedures to the form templates to set up the backbone of your desired ISO standard;

4.

Guidance on the implementation of the procedures provided to ensure that your organisation can generate records to show evidence of conformity continuously;

5.

Conducting an internal audit along with the guidance on any follow-up actions due to possible findings, preparing for the certification audit;

6.

Linking up with various certification bodies and sitting through the certification audit with your organisation, assisting in the required follow-up actions (if any) until the certificate is obtained;

7.

Conducting of internal audit for the subsequent surveillance audits.

What does ISO 14001 cover?

The following content comprehensively outlines the clauses that your organisation should pay attention to when implementing the EMS to ensure compliance.

1. Context of the Organisation

This includes identifying internal and external issues, determining interested parties and their needs and expectations, and the scope of your environmental management system.

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ISSUES

Examples of internal issues are potential internal roadblocks that may affect the ability of your organisation to implement the EMS, such as resources limitation effectively. You may then categorise resources further in terms of:

  • Human (lack of training or expertise to implement an effective EMS),

  • Financial (lack of funds to support the design and manufacture of your product and services complying with the EMS), and

  • Facilities (lack of workspaces to effectively implement the EMS.)

NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS OF INTERESTED PARTIES

Interested parties may refer to your organisation’s customers, clients, or even investors interested in partnering with your organisation. It is critical to list the needs and expectations of these interested parties and the compliance obligation/program planned by your organisation to meet the needs and expectations.

SCOPE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

This often refers to a scoping statement that describes what products or services are part of the EMS.

This information may be included in your manual or a separate document alternatively.

2. Leadership

Top management should demonstrate leadership and commitment by adhering to the listed specifications, such as staying accountable for the effectiveness of the EMS and ensuring that the environmental policy and objectives are in line with your organisation’s business strategic direction.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND OBJECTIVES

Environmental Policy and Objectives are required to be established by the top management. Commitments needed from the top management are to:

  • Protect the environment by pollution prevention, hazardous wastes and have sustainable resource usage.

  • Fulfil compliance specifications.

  • Continually improve the EMD and enhance environmental performance.

ORGANISATIONAL ROLES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITIES

Top management is also required to clearly define and assign the organisation’s job roles, responsibilities and authorities for the EMS and delegate someone or to:

  1. Ensure that the EMS conforms to the requirements of ISO 14001:2015.

  2. Report the performance of the EMS, including environmental performance, to the top management.

This can be found in records such as your organisation’s job description and organisation chart.

3. Planning

Using a risk-based approach, your organisation should implement and maintain processes and determine the risks and opportunities for the issues mentioned in the context of your organisation, environmental aspects, compliance obligations and planning action.

Processes here may refer to various Standard Operating Procedures as part of your organisation’s business operations. It is also recommended that your organisation conduct a risk assessment of the environmental aspects to address the potential environmental impact and foreseeable emergencies. It would be best to address risks arising from changes or new developments in your organisation’s products or services.

4. Support

The organisation should determine the provision of resources for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continual improvement of the EMS. Ensuring competence, awareness, communication, and documented information are also required.

Evidence of ensuring competence, awareness, and communication can be found in Standard Operating Procedures that describes how your organisation identifies employee’s training needs, evaluates the training program’s effectiveness, and communicates the environmental policy internally and externally from your organisation.

A procedure should also be set to control documents, similar to any other quality management system.

5. Operation

Your organisation will be required to set up controls such as procedures to consider the environmental aspects during the design and development, procurement and distribution of products and services depending on the nature of your business.

You shall also implement controls to prepare for any emergency or changes to mitigate the impact on the surroundings.

Your organisation can achieve this by implementing procedures with documented evidence to cover the scope of your EMS.

6. Performance Evaluation

Environmental performance is required by your organisation to be monitored and evaluated through management reviews and internal audits to ensure compliance.

Any monitoring or measuring tools used should also be calibrated and verified before usage.

Examples of evidence to fulfil this clause are:

INTERNAL AUDIT

Audit Programme Procedure indicates auditing frequency, methods, responsibilities, planning requirements and reporting of internal audits. Other forms of evidence include audit plans (with a defined lead auditor, audit team, criteria, location etc.), checklists and audit reports records of the audits conducted to ensure compliance to the standard.

The lead auditor and the audit team should have prior knowledge and proof of internal auditor training (certification to show competency in conducting an Environmental Management System audit).

MANAGEMENT REVIEW

The Management Review Procedure would indicate the review frequency and list of considerations or topics of discussion during management review meetings. You shall document the discussions points during the Management Review meeting by detailing the minutes as well.

CALIBRATION AND VERIFICATION OF MONITORING AND MEASUREMENT EQUIPMENT

Evidence of monitoring and measurement equipment maintenance is also required. Examples of evidence include maintaining an equipment master list that details the calibration, verification or maintenance frequency.

7. Improvement

Your organisation should also determine opportunities for improvement in your EMS. You may do this through the handling of nonconformities and corrective actions.

It would be best if you also practised continuous improvement of the EMS to ensure that your organisation can safely provide the products and services of your business while ensuring environmental performance.

Your organisation must implement a process or procedure to handle nonconformities & corrective actions and retain the records of investigations and planned corrective actions.

Similarly, you should identify opportunities for improvement during internal audits and management reviews mentioned in point 6 above.

What does it mean for a company to be certified ISO 14001?

An organisation that is ISO 14001 certified may assure interested parties that an effective environmental management system is in place to prevent or mitigate adverse environmental impact. Compliance with this standard also ensures that various regulations from various countries are met.

In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) advises organisations to adhere to the Safety Audit Guidelines that spurs organisations to adopt auditing guidelines under the ISO 14000 category. Under this scheme, you may have their internal auditor conduct their in-house audit service or engage NEA’s accredited consultants/auditors who can perform an audit.

ISO 14001 and other Management Systems

ISO 14001:2015 is often implemented and integrated with other management systems such as ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management Systems and ISO 45001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.

Due to the similarities in clauses and many organisations’ determination to protect the environment, workers’ health and safety while ensuring quality in their services and products, integration and multiple certifications can be achieved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the steps you should undertake to get yourself ISO 14001 certified:

1. Learning about the ISO 14001 standard

Start by learning the clauses and requirements for the ISO 14001 standard. You would want to know the specific requirements to build your environmental management system.

2. Perform environmental review & gap analysis

Next up, you should perform an environmental review on your organisation to determine its current and potential environmental impacts. Use the results to see how your organisation fare against the various environmental standards. Concurrently, you should also perform a gap analysis to determine whether your current business model has met the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. If not, determine the actions you should take to achieve compliance. It is recommended to start engaging an ISO consultant to execute these activities for you.

3. Planning your ISO 14001 certification project

Collaboratively with your ISO consultant, you can now start drafting out the various systems and processes required to help you satisfy both your organisational requirements and the certification requirements.

4. Training your organisation

While planning, it is recommended that you start training your employees on the various requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. Training can be done internally or sent out to external organisations that conduct ISO 14001 training courses.

5. Documenting of evidence

Throughout the whole certification process, you must store all the documents organised and secured. Our proprietary software Stendard Solution™ specialises in document storage and management, thus perfect for this situation.

6. Implementing EMS and undergoing an audit

The last stage of the certification process would be implementing the environmental management system. Then liaise with a certification body to conduct an audit on your EMS to assess its performance and compliance.

ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System (EMS) is an international standard that aims to aid organisations to achieve environmental sustainability, striking a balance between the environment, society and economy. These are the three pillars of corporate sustainability.

It is essential because it helps organisations improve their environmental performance through efficient usage of resources and reduction in wastage, gaining competitive advantage and trust of stakeholders.

Certification bodies like TÜV SÜD are considered accredited bodies for issuing ISO certifications.

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