By Max Clarke
The International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) has just published a new standard in order to help organizations, and in particular small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to use a phased approach to implement an environmental management system (EMS).
Today, organizations increasingly take into account environmental management requirements in their activities. However, even if they clearly see the benefits they can derive, implementing an EMS is not always an easy task, especially for SMEs.
The job will now be made easier by ISO 14005:2010, Environmental management systems — Guidelines for the phased implementation of an environmental management system, including the use of environmental performance evaluation.
The purpose of this standard is to provide guidance for organizations on the phased development, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an environmental management system in order to meet the requirements of ISO 14001, which provides the requirements for an EMS. ISO 14005 also includes advice on the integration and use of environmental performance evaluation techniques.
This International Standard is applicable to any organization, regardless of its level of development, its activities, or its location.
A phased approach offers several advantages:
* Users can readily evaluate how the time and money put into an EMS provides a return
* They can see how environmental improvements help to reduce costs, improve their community relations, assist them in demonstrating compliance with legal and other requirements, and help them live up to customer expectations
* They can track the benefits of their EMS while they implement their system step by step, adding or expanding elements as they provide value to the organization
* They can focus on the issues that are critical for them, their customers or supply chain.
The model outlined in the standard has been developed to help an organization to implement an EMS in a flexible way focusing on the organization's needs, while growing the extent and scope of the system, through time, in line with the objectives of the organization and the resources available.
Dr Anne-Marie Warris, Chair of the ISO subcommittee responsible for ISO 14005, comments: “The working group members that developed the standard are to be congratulated for their hard work in producing guidance related to this important area. During the project, a number of developing countries indicated the importance of this work for their communities.”
An EMS meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 is a management tool enabling an organization of any size or type to:
* Identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services
* Continually improve its environmental performance
* Implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved
* Ensure legal compliance.