ISO 14000 Environmental Standards

ISO 14000 is a different kind of environmental standard than others discussed in this chapter. It is a series of process standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They consist of a family of voluntary environmental management standards and guidelines. The purpose of the standards is to establish an organizational environmental ethic and enhance an organization's ability to measure and attain standards of environmental performance. As such, it has the potential to help companies act as responsible environmental citizens by providing a commonly accepted basis for corporate commitment to the environment and to provide a platform from which environmental professionals may take their companies in new directions.

ISO 14000 is also an international system for the certification of users. This extends the standards into the domains of international policy and trade, which is consistent with the mission of ISO to facilitate the international exchange of goods and services. The system consists of:

1. Environmental Management System Standard

2. Environmental Auditing Standard

3. Environmental Labeling Standard

4. Environmental Performance Evaluation Standard

5. Life Cycle Analysis Standard

6. Product Standards

7. Terms & Definitions

The standards deal with management systems, not with performance; they are voluntary and require no public reporting; and they are designed for organizations in the developed world. As such, they will provide a company with internal benefits, but will not fully address a company's concerns about international trade requirements, regulatory compliance, or public image as environmentally re sponsible corporate citizens. It is up to the company implementing the environmental management system at the heart of ISO 14000 to integrate it into the business in a manner that will realize financial and environmental performance improvements.

The Environmental Management System Standard is the centerpiece of ISO 14000. The essential elements of this standard are summarized below. Please refer to the final standards and their associated documents for further guidance and clarification.

1. Top management defines the organization's environmental policy.

2. The organization establishes and maintains:

a. a procedure or process to identify the environmental issues pertaining to its activities, products, and services that it can control and over which it has an influence, in order to determine those aspects of operations that have or can have a significant impact upon the environment;

b. a procedure or process to identify and have access to legal and other requirements that are directly applicable to the environmental aspects of its activities, products, and services;

c. documented environmental objectives and targets for each relevant function and at each level within the organization;

d. a program for setting and achieving its objectives and targets.

3. The plan is implemented by:

a. management defining a structure and providing resources to effectively manage environmental issues;

b. identifying the training, education, and skills needed for all personnel whose work may significantly affect the environment;

c. establishing and maintaining internal and external communication procedures regarding environmental aspects of the organization's activities and its environmental management system;

d. identifying and maintaining information on operations, plans, and procedures related to the environmental management system;

e. establishing and maintaining procedures for controlling all the documents required for effective implementation of the environmental management system;

f. developing and maintaining documented procedures to facilitate implementation of the organization's environmental policies, objectives, targets, and programs;

g. establishing and maintaining procedures for prevention of—and response to—accidents and emergency situations, and for prevention or mitigation of the environmental impacts that may be associated with them.

4. The plan is monitored and corrective actions taken by establishing and maintaining:

a. documented procedures to monitor and measure the key characteristics of those processes that can have a significant impact on the environment;

b. documented procedures both for handling and investigating non-conformance with the environmental management system and for initiating corrective and preventive action;

c. procedures for the identification, maintenance, and disposition of the environmental records needed to implement and operate the environmental management system;

d. a program and procedures for periodically conducting environmental management system audits.

5. To ensure the continuing suitability and effectiveness of the environmental management system, a process must be established and maintained—and implemented at defined intervals—for management to review and evaluate the efficacy of the environmental management system.

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