Panacea, Common Sense, or Just a label?
The value of ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems
The ISO 14001 standards, approved in 1996, describe the components and characteristics of aneffective system for managing a corporation’s environmental impacts. They offer a format for developing an environmental policy, identifying environmental aspects, defining objectives and targets,implementing a program to attain a company’s goals, monitoring and measuring effectiveness, correcting deficiencies and problems, and reviewing management systems to promote continuous improvement.
Somefirms are using ISO 14000 guidelines to develop new environmental management systems, other corporations, government agencies, and environmental interest groups are skeptical about the real impacts ofISO 14000 certification.
Companies use ISO 14000 standards in two ways. Some document their environmental management systems and self-declare that their EMSs meet ISO 14001 standards; others officiallycertify their EMSs through a registered external auditor.
By the end of 1998, nearly 8000 organizations in 72 countries had formally certified their environmental management systems under ISO14001.
Advocates of an international standard for assessing corporate environmental management systems claim substantial benefits for companies that adopt ISO 14001 guidelines. Others argue that becausethe standards do not measure environmental performance directly they are inadequate instruments for improving environmental sustainability.
ISO 14001 provides guidance on EMS requirements, based on asimple “plan-do-check” framework. It focuses on five major documents:
1)The development and adoption of an environmental policy.
2) A planning process that identifies all o the environmentalaspects of a facility’s operations.
3) A system of implementation and operation that includes a clear structure of responsibility for environmental management, programs for training, awareness and...
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