ISO 14001 is the International Standard that organisations use to improve their environmental business performance. ISO 14001 focuses attention on managing significant environmental risks and opportunities. Using good data from an initial review will provide clarity and allow priority to be given to areas that will benefit environmental performance the most, although where regulations or legislation determine a minimum set of controls, these should always be in place.
ISO 14001 does not set out environmental performance criteria for each aspect, as it requires an organisation to identify its own environmental aspects and manage them accordingly. Through external audit, the applicability of the Standard would be tested, which ensures you have identified aspects correctly.
In the guidance for ISO 14001, there are 8 environmental aspects identified. These are:
|Emissions to air||Use of energy|
|Releases to water||Energy emitted (by heat, radiation, vibration, noise or light)|
|Releases to land||Waste generation, including by-products|
|Use of natural resources and raw materials||Use of space|
Considering each of these in turn will allow you to build your register of aspects. Considering these from the point of view of both risk and opportunity will further enhance your subsequent management system.
A good review will provide you with data that can be used as the basis of sound decision-making. Let’s take an example of a small factory that produces machined parts. Through production, they manufacture a metal machined part.
The applicable environmental aspects would be use of raw materials, waste generation, use of space, energy use and energy emitted in the form of sound and vibration. Understanding the scope to which these aspects applies will provide a basis for improvement. For example:
Each machined part takes:
After 5000 parts, the machines need maintenance, which results in lost time.
Potentially, the process owners could look to make improvements in the environmental business performance, which could reduce the amount of lost material. This in turn might use less energy, which might also increase the number of parts that could be made before maintenance is required.
This may be a simplistic example, but it’s based on real examples we’ve help companies to implement. An environmental system should help you meet legal requirements, prevent pollution and improve performance, which can only be good for your business.
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Alister has worked within small, medium and large manufacturing industries for most of his career implementing and maintaining quality, environment and safety management systems. He has adopted a practical approach to implementing robust management systems which provides assurance for both employees and stakeholders.
Alister is a graduate in Occupational Health and Safety and holds additional professional qualifications in quality and environmental management.
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