ISO 14001:2015 ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION.
The environment around us is very important, our survival as a human race depends on the environment . It supports us, giving us food, shelter , drinking water and habitable conditions. The effects of global warming and how it is affecting the way we live and work is well documented.Environmental Certification ISO 14001:2015 is the way for Organizations to reduce their environmental footprint.
There are many ways to help the environment, one of them being the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification standards for businesses and organizations of any kind. The ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification is a family of ISO standards that are related to environmental management that exists to help businesses and/or organizations minimize how they negatively affect the environment while conducting their business activities , comply with applicable laws, regulations and other environmentally oriented requirements and to improve over time on their approach to minimize how they negatively affect the environment. The certification has grown in popularity due to the reason that it can be applied to any organization or services. It can be applied to manufacturing, construction, pharmaceuticals, food, service industries.
The standards for ISO were finalized in 1996 and they are updated every five years to remain relevant in the ever changing business landscape, the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification standard is compatible with other management system standards namely ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Standard, ISO 45001:2018 Safety standard, ISO 27001, Information security Standards, ISO 13485, Certification to Medical Devices.
These standards are also recognized internationally. Governments and local authorities place a lot of importance on ISO 14001:2015 Environmental certifications, which leads many companies to undergo the certification because it gives them a greater chance of winning tenders from the government or local authorities. The certification also helps companies gain a competitive advantage and the trust of both internal and external stakeholders. The last update made to ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification was in 2015.
Other ISO standards that look at different types of management such as Quality Management ISO 9001 and Safety ISO 45001 all use High Level structures, meaning that ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification can easily be integrated into any existing ISO management system. ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification is suitable for any business or organization such as private, non-profit or governmental. All it requires is that any business or organization considers all environmental issues connected to its operation such as air pollution, waste management, soil contamination and resource use and efficiency and as all other ISO management systems require, improve gradually on how they approach environmental concerns that they might cause.
The primary aim of the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental certification is to help companies become more environmentally friendly and provide a structured and defined way of dealing with the issues of environmental welfare. The main elements that need to be addressed in ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification are Managing processes and procedures and identifying environmental aspects which are within the control of the organization and the impact derived from these aspects. So basically, a company is supposed to define what it does to alleviate its environmental impact and do what they have stipulated. ISO 14001:2015 Environmental certification also requires the active and proactive role to be taken by management and employees alike.
Putting the process in place is the hardest part of the entire ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification procedure, the proper implementation of the process can give organizations many benefits to reap. Showing people that your organization has made a commitment to help the environment helps them build trust and confidence in your organization, ensures your Organization is a good corporate citizen. Streamlined processes to help the environment will lead to your workforce also being aware of the environment and motivated to play their part in reducing the environment impact. also, a happier and relaxed work force is one that is most committed. The initial outlay of the process seems to be very expensive but if you take into account the amount of money you save from energy consumption, raw material use and reduction in waste, the process will pay for itself in a short period of time and your organization will reap rewards on a monetary level as well.
Businesses and organizations that undergo the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental certification often receive reduced premium rates from their insurers. They also become less of a risk to insurance companies because the system ensures that you meet the requirements set out through legislation. In minimizing your affect on the environment, your organization will become more efficient and cost savings increase with every change. This will provide a competitive and financial advantage to your organization.
Here are some more benefits:
● Be part of the Large Number of Organizations who are certified to ISO 14001:2015 Standards.
● Show your Organization commitment to the environment in what is now becoming one of the
greatest challenges of our times due to global warming.
● Be a good Corporate Citizen.
● Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements.
● Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees
● Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management
● Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the
organization’s business systems
It is always best to obtain the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental certification through a certification body. Make sure to pick a good certification body, because the future of your certification depends on them. This is proof that you have a third party evaluation of your processes and systems and they agree that you meet all requirements of the standard. This will help reassure the potential and current customers of your organization of your commitment to environmental issues.
The process of the ISO 14001 certification is not firm and steadfast. It can take some time. The amount of time the certification takes depends on the size of the organization and the amount of new policies and processes that must be implemented. To ensure a smooth transition and implementation your company should appoint a designated Environmental Manager/ Coordinator who acts as a management representative for all issues concerning the Environment Management System.
You can expect the process of change and implementation to last anywhere from one to six months, from the initial meeting and evaluation for the certification to the complete certification of your company. The initial audit will be carried out by a lead auditor, who will evaluate your current policies, processes and procedures and provide you with a detailed report of where your current systems need to change in order to meet with requirements for ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Certification. This initial audit is called the Gap Audit.
Your organization will be given the opportunity to make changes to its existing system as per the report from the lead auditor. Once this is done, a Stage 1 audit will be carried out which measures whether the procedures are meeting the standard ISO 14001 requirements, whether an Internal Audit has been completed on all the clauses of the standard, whether a Management Review has been conducted on the system. Once the stage 1 Audit has been completed and all issues addressed then a Stage 2 Audit will be conducted, Stage 2 Audit looks at the evidence presented and if any minor issues of non-conformance is found then minor non conformance is raised, the organization has one month time to come out with a plan as to what corrective actions to be put in place to close out this non-conformance, the effectiveness of this corrective action will be checked during the next audit, In case of Major non-conformance where there is no evidence of meeting the clause of the standard then the certification will not be recommended till this corrective action is implemented. There will be observations issued which are for the organization to consider as if they are left unattended then it may lead to non- conformance. Once there are no major issues then certification will be recommended by the Auditor.
The report of the auditor will be reviewed by an independent technical committee and if everything is in order, then your company will be awarded the certification. The process is still not over though. Every year, your company will have to undergo surveillance audits to see if you are still meeting certification standards. A report will be written on completion and will state weather anything still needs to be changed.
Your organization will have a certain amount of time to carry out these changes. Also, every three years, your organization will undergo a full re-audit called as Re-certification to outline the strengths and weaknesses of your systems and they will assist you in identifying areas that need improvement. The improvements have to be undertaken by the organization, not the certification body.
The ISO 14001 certification may seem very daunting but despite the amount of work and time the process takes, in the end you will be reaping many, many benefits