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Environmental Management Systems

Environmental Management Systems

At its core, an Environmental Management System (EMS) such as ISO 14001 drives companies to improve their environmental performance. An EMS brings environmental management and continual improvement into the heart of the company by aligning overall strategic business direction with environmental opportunities and risks. 

More Prominent Environmental Management

A key focus of ISO 14001:2015 is on environmental management becoming more prominent within the company’s strategic business direction. A large part of this involves the requirement to understand the “context of the organization”—how it works, its motivations and drivers, factors that can impact its ability to achieve strategic objectives. This can be done through a variety of ways: 

  • Determining external and internal issues (e.g., risks, improvement opportunities, impacts) relevant to the company and the environment.
  • Focusing on the needs and expectations of interested parties that can affect or be affected by the company.
  • Identifying risk associated with changes, opportunities, and threats; significant environmental aspects; and compliance obligations.

Alignment with Other Standards

ISO 14001 contains elements that are designed to be compatible with the structures of ISO 9001 and ISO 45001 (under ISO Directive Annex SL 2013), allowing organizations to more easily align their EMS with other existing management systems. Recent food safety standards, such as FSSC 22000, also are structured in a similar Plan-Do-Check-Adjust framework. An aligned EMS helps companies to achieve improved and more reliable safety performance, while adding measurable business value.

Strategic Plan

Kestrel works with many organizations to develop an EMS Strategic Plan to provide a roadmap outlining what will be done and when. Continual improvement is a cornerstone of this Plan and its components.

As a first step, we conduct a working session to organize, structure, and brainstorm critical elements of the Plan. We do this using how/why diagramming and other methods to establish interrelationships, precedence, and details for planning the deployment of the EMS. We work to build the model based on the organization’s business objectives, expanding on any organizational planning that has already been done and adding key elements where needed.

The tasks involved include the following:

  • Conduct working session and review relevant information to understand current scope of operations, environmental management, and governance structure across the organization.
  • Conduct gap assessment to evaluate the current (“as-is”) condition of the EMS against the desired (“to-be”) condition.
  • Determine key components of the EMS to achieve business objectives and steps of the EMS implementation (design and facility deployment) to achieve those objectives.
  • Identify a recommended EMS organization, roles, and responsibilities, including EMS design and implementation teams.
  • Provide aspect/impact-driven review and development of operational work instructions
  • Create a development and implementation schedule and recommended resource allocation.
  • Provide relevant training, as appropriate.

Business Benefits

The business benefits of implementing an EMS are many. These benefits are typical objectives for an improved EMS and will be explored further during the planning process.

Manage Risks

  • Reduce financial impact of environmental incidents and losses (e.g., NOVs, fines, penalties, spills, waste, emergencies – incidents/accidents, contaminated properties, natural resource damage, neighbor impacts)
  • Assure regulatory compliance (e.g., meet or exceed national, regional, or local regulations applicable to the location of the facility)
  • Reduce potential for legal liability (e.g., third-party lawsuits, enforcement – civil and/or criminal penalties, contaminated properties, financial environmental disclosures)
  • Protect reputation (e.g., image; brand; relations with communities, customers, industry peers, government, suppliers, investors)
  • Protect the environment, as well as human resources and physical assets (e.g., employees and community, plant and grounds, air, water and land)

Enhance Efficiencies

  • Establish consistent EMS platform to enable efficient deployment across other business units (improve efficiency, avoid expensive duplication, reduce lost time fixing problems)
  • Continually improve (e.g., measurable and objective verification of environmental methods and performance improvement; addressing issues on a priority basis)
  • Develop a standardized and efficient process for responding to customer inquiries about environmental systems, sustainability, business continuity, etc.

Support Acquisition Initiatives

  • Understand and manage acquisition liabilities
  • Achieve operational integration and efficiencies with new acquisitions by implementing and using common EMS

Control Costs

  • Control operational environmental losses and costs (e.g., waste, energy, water, inefficiencies, lost time, disruptions, delays, incidents)
  • Minimize liability costs (e.g., legacy sites, legal liabilities)
  • Efficiently manage environmental program administration (e.g., staffing, information and data management, training, sourcing)