from the Stakeholder Preparedness Group
ISO 14001 is changing – for the better. There is likely to be greater focus on ‘what your organisation does’, as well as ‘how you do it’. This will mean integration of environmental management into core business processes and corporate strategy.
The latest draft places emphasis on your value chain – leading to a better understanding and management of your organisation’s life-cycle impacts. Consideration must be given to environmental issues (wider than traditional pollution prevention) including: climate change adaptation, resource use, biodiversity, and carbon emissions.
There are business opportunities arising from these changes, such as increasing the resilience of your operations and supply chain in a fast-changing, resource-limited world. However, as the person responsible for ISO 14001, you will be tasked with understanding them, and translating them into your organisation in a meaningful way.
This is where the ‘ISO 14001:2015 Stakeholder Preparedness Group’ (or Road Test) may be of interest. We are a cross-sector group of major organisations who are coming together to discuss, and respond to the changes proactively, well ahead of the deadline. Joining the group will help you to introduce the necessary changes in a considered manner; maximising the benefits for your organisation, and demonstrating thought-leadership in your sector.
We will meet four times between now and the end of 2014, to review the committee drafts, benchmark our existing practices, and develop and compare strategies for implementing the new requirements. We may ask certification bodies to comment on our outputs and provide feedback, and invite speakers on particular topics.
Organisations due to attend include:
Hydram Engineering and
If you would like to join the group, contact Marek Bidwell of Bidwell Management Systems (email@example.com) for details. Spaces are limited so apply early to avoid disappointment. Tel: 0771 898 5962.
We were delighted to see our client ‘Hydram Engineering’ featured in The Journal at the end of September – following 18 months of growth and the creation of 60 jobs – founded on sustainability and world-class production.
Hydram supplies metal products and components to blue chip companies including Alexander Dennis, Caterpillar, JCB and Thorn Lighting.
Bidwell Management Systems have worked with Hydram on a number of environmental and H&S project over the last few years (in association with the Manufacturing Advisory Service). Achievements have including improving energy efficiency, reducing waste costs, and certification to both ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001.
MAS Advisor Lynn Thompson said: “Hydram is a great North East manufacturing success story and is a perfect example of what you can achieve with long-term planning and sustained financial backing. It also received fantastic external support from Marek Bidwell at Bidwell Management Services.
Contact Marek Bidwell for more information on how we can help your organisation in a similar way.
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?
Some listed companies will be reporting their Greenhouse Gas emissions for the first time under the new mandatory GHG Reporting regulations (The Companies Act). Other will have been reporting for a while — but will need to ensure they are reporting in-line with the new requirements.
Although the regulations only apply ‘to the extent that it is practical for the company to obtain the information in question’; organisations will want to make sure that there data is as comprehensive and accurate as possible. It is likely that there will be a host of league tables published by the sustainability press — it could be embarrassing to back-track on published data in future years.
So my top 10 bear traps to avoid when compiling GHG data for your financial report are: (more…)
“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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
By Marek Bidwell (2013)
When carrying out management system internal audits for health & safety, environmental, and quality some organisations use standard audit checklists, but do these checklists add value to the audit process or dumb it down?
Developing a personal audit checklist is a vital part of planning for each audit that I focus on during audit training courses. The process of reviewing the audit criteria such as relevant legislation, company procedures, and standards (eg: ISO 14001, ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001) enables the auditor to make sense of the requirements, structure them into a series of logical questions, avoid repetition during the audit, and arrive well prepared. I stress that these checklists should not just be a list of questions to ask, but also physical evidence to look for, and documents to review, thus incorporating the full range of audit evidence. In its simplest form an audit checklist could be the relevant company process or procedure annotated or highlighted by the auditor, to use as an aid memoir during the audit. (more…)
Verification of audit information is a key skill for carrying out an internal audit but the extent of verification, and techniques used, are often highly variable, and may have a significant impact on the validity of your audit findings.
Imagine that you are auditing a transport procedure for a company with a fleet of vehicles. The procedure requires that each vehicle is logged on a database including details such as service intervals, insurance details, and input of monthly mileage data. How would you sample this information and check that the overall process is working?
Observing hundreds of auditors in training I have noticed that many are comfortable discussing the process with the responsible person, taking a sample of information from a database, and then checking this information in a filing system. In this case they may also take sample mileage details from the database and check these against vehicle mileometers in the car park. I call this “back to front auditing”, or checking input data against reality. The auditee is normally relatively confident at this stage because we are checking what they know exists and have records for. In this example it is unlikely that a known vehicle will have missed its MOT or service, and any gaps in mileage data will show up clearly on the database. (more…)
This week I have been running a health & safety internal auditor course and it struck me that whatever the standard or organisation the primary concerns of newly trained internal auditors are consistent. During the course I made a note of some of these common questions, and have added answers below.
Q1a: How long will the internal audits take me?
This is probably the number one question asked by newly trained internal auditors. (more…)
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…)