Packed with useful analysis, diagrams, and references, this guide will help you to understand the new requirements in ISO 14001, and interpret them for your organisation.
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“Used the previous edition to this to provide further interpretation to the DIS standard and found it really useful. Proud to say our system has been certified to the new standard by our certification body… thanks again for the great service you provide” Kyle MacNeill, Environmental Assurance Manager, Northern Rail
“A very good read, takes the worry out of implementing the new standard” Andrew Robsertson, SHE Manager, Hydram Engineering
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By way of introduction, there is a visual representation of the correspondence between ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 1400:2015. There are thirteen sections – each of the key changes to 14001 are identified and discussed, and compared against the existing requirements of the 2004 version. The text is supplemented with helpful diagrams to illustrate key requirements. This guide will help you to build up a picture of what you are already doing, in relation to what you need to do. At the end of each section there is a list of references, tools, and techniques. The guide is 8000 words.
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About the Author:
Marek Bidwell is Director of Bidwell Management Systems, a Chartered Environmentalist Assessor, a visiting lecturer at Newcastle University in environmental management, and co-founder of Green-Thinkers’ book club.Previously he worked for Northern Powergrid as an environmental advisor.
Since the beginning of 2014 he has facilitated the “ISO 14001:2105 Road Test” – a cross-sector group of organisations making the transition to the new standard.
In the August 2013 edition of The Environmentalist Magazine my article “Polluting Power” was published considering how pollutants impact habitats and species, with examples from around the world. This will be the first in a series on core professional knowledge for environmentalists. See http://www.environmentalistonline.com/article/2013-08-09/polluting-power
If you enjoyed the piece – I have devised some discussion / bookclub-like questions to help you dig a little deeper into the subject – and get the little grey cells buzzing:
- Can and should the significance and impact of different categories of pollution be compared?
- It is worth accepting, or necessary to accept, some degree of pollution in return for industry and jobs?
- Are the effects of pollution on health and ecosystems costed into products and services? Should they be, and if so how?
- Do anti-pollution regulations and taxes just ‘offshore’ industry to less regulated places? If so what’s the answer?
- Do certain socio-economic groups suffer the effects of pollution more than other? If so do these same groups benefit equally from the activities causing the pollution?
- When does something that is wanted (such as fertilizer) become pollution?
- Can pollution ever be beneficial to species or ecosystems?
- What type(s) of pollution are of the greatest concern to you and why?
“Assessing your environmental strategic planning in preparedness for ISO 14001:2015”
Having written previously about the changes to ISO 14001, due to be published in 2015, which are likely to include increased focus on the supply chain, ecosystems, adaptation, and products and services, in this paper I will consider one aspect in more detail, which is giving consideration to environmental performance in strategic planning: ‘what you do’ – compared with an organisation’s direct environmental impacts: ‘how you do it’. I will use the Green Operations and Strategy Assessment Tool (GOSAT) to illustrate these ideas throughout, which may be used by organisations to develop a high level strategy in this area:
In the past, quality management systems (ISO 9001 and its predecessors) got a bad name, because there was a view that you could specify rubbish and make rubbish; conformance with specified requirements was key. To a greater or lesser extent this changed with the publication of the 2000 edition, which placed much greater emphasis on monitoring processes, products and customer perception, thus driving improvement in all areas of the organisation that contribute to meeting customer requirements. This in turn encourages innovation.
ISO 14001 suffers from a similar image problem today in some quarters, as 9001 did pre-2000, but in this case the customer could be seen as the environment. As long as the organisation complies with legal and other requirements, improves in some areas, and prevents pollution (normally considered to be from its direct activities) it can continue do what it does, or making what it makes, without considering its ‘raison d’être’ and overall life-cycle impacts.
As an example let’s consider a hypothetical manufacturer of patio heaters that has ISO 14001. Their environmental policy includes a commitment to ‘greening the earth’, although perhaps ‘warming the earth’ would be a more realistic objective given the product. Such a manufacturer could have a spotless factory, use solvent-free paint, and operate a fleet of electric delivery vehicles, but it will still be making a product that many see as unnecessary and highly unsustainable. Its position on GOSAT would be in the top left-hand corner.
If the 2015 version of ISO 14001 contains a requirement for the organisation to ‘consider the result of the evaluation of significant environmental aspects as input into the design, development or change of its products and services’ it would be interesting to see if the organisation readily retained ISO 14001 with no changes, dropped that product line, redesigned it, or substituted it for something that provided an equivalent service, such as thermal underwear. Redesigning the product could include partially addressing the core issue of heating outside air, such as we saw with the electric patio heater pitch by Eddie Middleton on Dragon’s Den in 2009. They may consider ‘improving’ the product through de-materialisation or perhaps increasing its life expectancy. One way of doing this might be by switching to solvent-based paints that may be more durable, but have a greater environmental impact at the production stage. Another might be by providing a take-bake service for the product at the end of its life. The company could use GOSAT to help plan their overall environmental strategy.
Our patio heater company is not alone in this journey; there are many well-documented examples of organisations that are beginning to, or have already, re-imagined themselves along more environmentally sustainable lines. The late Ray Anderson described in his book Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist how his flooring company, Interface, re-engineered its process to harvest used carpet tiles, thus reducing fossil fuel dependency and waste to landfill. Other organisations, such as Green and Black’s, embedded sustainability principles in their businesses from the very beginning. Green and Black’s founder, Craig Sams, always believed that organic farming was not only essential for soil quality and ecosystem integrity, but that it also resulted in tastier food. With rising resource prices, climate instability, and degradation of ecosystems there are many sound business reasons to take a long-term holistic approach to running a business.
However, does this mean that all organisations who have strong environmental credentials from a product and service point of view (what they do), have also eliminated environmental compliance and pollution risks from their business (how they do it)? My counterintuitive theory is that this is not necessarily the case, and in some areas the opposite may be true. Before reading on can you think of any examples?
I will explain by considering a different hypothetical organisation: a recycling company that specialises in diverting food waste from landfill, capturing methane, and producing renewable electricity. Its core business model is aligned with sustainability principles. It does not have ISO 14001, possibly because it is considered to be unnecessary, and such controls would be an added cost and constraint. However, while it has grasped the green opportunity, it is less competent with regards to operations. It does little in the way of process monitoring, and frequently has problems with waste deliveries backing up in its yard. Odour from one of its plants is so bad that local residents often feel trapped in their homes, which is having a direct effect on their quality of life, health, and wellbeing. The regulator has received hundreds of complaints, and despite having contacted the plant, residents are taking legal action because they are convinced the problems will continue. The recycling company’s position on GOSAT would be in the bottom right-hand corner, and they could use the model to consider improvements to their overall business strategy, thus closing the gap to the ideal greener trajectory.
I won’t give specific examples here but the Environment Agency’s Sustainable Business Report for 2011 states that the number of serious pollution incidents per 100 permits issued is actually highest for the biowaste sector at 5.5; ironically this is well above the landfill sector, which only had 0.3 serious pollution incidents per 100 permits issued.
Therefore, while some organisations have made a logical progression from pollution prevention and compliance to an all-encompassing green business model, the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. Increasingly we will have to rely on diverse and novel technologies to solve critical challenges that we face, such as resource scarcity, adverse weather, food shortages, increasing migration of pests, rising CO2 emissions, and degradation of ecosystems. These technologies will not necessarily be risk free, and in some case may have greater safety and environmental operational risks than their predecessors. I have always said that there is no silver bullet when it comes to environmental management.
In summary I believe that ‘what you do’ and ‘how you do it’ must go hand in hand in order to solve global problems, prevent local pollution, and preserve the overall reputation of an organisation or brand.
The increased emphasis on environmental sustainability in the 2015 version of ISO 14001 will encourage many organisations to embed it into their business model, not only raising the profile of environmental management with the organisation but engaging leaders with opportunities presented by the green economy. Organisations exploiting new technologies however, large and small, would be advised to consider pollution prevention and neighbourhood impacts in equal importance to the bigger picture.
Please use the Green Operations and Strategy Assessment Tool (GOSAT) presented in this article to assess your organisation referencing the source. For more detailed analysis and guidance Bidwell Management Systems provides an ISO 14001:2015 Preparedness Service; contact Marek Bidwell (email@example.com) for more details.
By Marek Bidwell (2013)
Newcastle University (NIRS) are at the forefront of research on sustainability and hosted a debate yesterday between Jonathon Porritt and John Atkin (Syngenta) entitled “Sustainable Intensification versus Low Input Farming”
In my mind few issue are of greater importance that how to feed 7-9 billion people without degrading the air, soil, water, and climate on which food production systems depend. Two main schools of thought are greater intensification vs organic. Intensification is associated with larger farm sizes, mono-culture, increased mechanisation, increased use of fertilizer, and hi-tech such as GM crops. Organic farming practices are usually more labour intensive, often more diverse in terms of crops / livestock, reuse more nutrients within smaller farm systems, and obviously don’t use externally generated fertilizers and insecticides. (more…)
On 17th May Sustain-affinity and IEMA hosted a webinar called “30 ways to reduce your impacts and impacts and initiate engagement”
These are my personal notes for sharing; my comments are in italics, – Marek Bidwell (more…)
Recently reading both ‘Prosperity without Growth’ by Tim Jackson, and ‘The God Species’ by Mark Lynas I have been struck how both authors share a deep concern for the earths global systems, but have reached radically different solutions for global sustainability. (more…)
A Defra research project has found that more than a third of firms studied experienced an increase in sales after implementing an Environmental Management System, with a further third confirming they expected to do so in the near future. The study looked at firms who had certified their EMS to either ISO 14001 or BS 8555/Acorn, and shows the majority were able to reduce costs. (more…)
In January 2012 BMS attended an IEMA North East Region CPD event on the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility in industry. The event opened with a talk by Michelle Campbell-Robson from the Environmental Academy with an introduction to CR, discussing the benefits and trends. She focussed on the positive feedback loops that Traidcraft have developed in tea supply chains by paying a fair price, building relationships, and ultimately improving product quality, and customer satisfaction. Michelle illustrated how the number of organisations reporting on CR has increased dramatically since the 1990s and how the content of those reports has also changed to include greater emphasis on social and sustainability issues.
The next speaker, Paul Burns from Gentoo opened memorably saying “We don’t do CR because we don’t do anything else”. He spoke about local challenges in Sunderland where students sometimes blame the lack of employment opportunities on events like the closure of the shipyards, which can’t be right as they closed long before the students were born, and how Gentoo are working to raise aspirations, create employment opportunities and improve skills in the area. On energy efficiency Gentoo have a pioneering project to retrofit 2000 homes to reduce carbon emissions, and have built houses to meet the PassivHaus standard in Houghton-le-Spring. Paul shed light on some of the challenges faced in realising carbon savings and the need to educate residents on how to operate the unfamiliar technology installed. As well as benefitting from a more efficient house, some tenants in fuel poverty will understandably choose to improve their household comfort and heat the whole house rather than one room.
Stephen Weldon from Greggs followed and underlined the local nature of the Greggs business and the emphasis that has always been placed on long-term staff relationships and giving back to local communities through schemes such as hardship funds, breakfast clubs, and the Greggs Foundation. He quoted Ian Gregg OBE “As the business grows successfully it has a disproportionate responsibility to help those who are most disadvantaged within the community”. Greggs considers food and nutrition as a fundamental of their CR strategy, having removed all artificial colours from their products, they are also gradually reducing salt levels. Greggs are covered by the Climate Change Agreement and have targets to reduce energy consumption fitting over 90% of shops with half hourly metering. Regarding suppliers and ethical sourcing Stephen said that Greggs have good long term relationships with suppliers and also aim to source locally.
The ethos within Northumbria Water is that “we are serving ourselves” as staff, and their families, live in the area and depend upon the water services provided. Louise Hunter, head of Corporate Responsibility, said that “everything we do for CR has real business benefits” such as employee wellbeing programmes, and they have achieved Platinum Plus status in the BitC CR Index. Louise illustrated how sustainability thinking can align with business benefits by explaining they have moved from the pellatisation of sewage sludge to treatment by advanced anaerobic digestion (AD) at Bran Sands, which has reduced their carbon footprint on the waste water treatment side of the business considerably. The renewable energy generated from the AD process produces 60% of the power for the treatment plant. The remaining material is turned into fertilizer. During her talk, Louise responded to an interesting question about how to communicate the water reduction message in the North East where we are fortunate to have plenty of water, by saying she converts water consumption into carbon emissions so it can be accounted for in that way and there is a tool on their website to do this. Water is heavy and movement and treatment requires a lot of energy.
The final presentation was from Kye Gbangbola from Total Eco Management Ltd who gave an introduction to the GRI reporting framework for sustainability reporting. He said that those organisations measuring and reporting sustainability issues “fly with the radar on and keep good company, but those who fly with the radar off will be increasingly challenged by stakeholders”. GRI metrics are common and comparable allowing organisations to benchmark their performance with others, and bring business benefits including a lower cost of borrowing. Kye explained how indicators could be selected from the standard GRI list appropriate to different industry sectors and outlined a typical process to assist an organisation gather and report on such data.
One of the repeat themes from this event was that the expression of Corporate Responsibility in different organisations may have a very different flavour depending upon specific issues such as business sector, location, and stakeholders. Some businesses may focus more on community and others on the environment, but all hopefully work towards the long term sustainability of both the organisation and the planet.
By Marek Bidwell