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  Environmental Management System (EMS) &
  Specification of ISO 14001:1996 - an Overview
Environmental Management System    

What is EMS?

An EMS is simply a continual cycle of planing, implementing reviewing and improving the actions that an organization takes to meet its environmental objectives. It presents a systematic approach to meet both business and environmental goals. Based on the Total Quality Management model of "Plane-Do-Check-Act." ISO 14001 outlines the 17 elements of a management system, which, over time should result in improved environmental performance. There must be a documented environmental management system (EMS). The system must be designed to ensure that the environmental policy is achieved, and must conform to any pertinent code of practice.

Key Elements of an EMS

Initial review of environmental aspects

Identification of Legal Requirements

Commitment and Environmental Policy

Training ∑ Implementation

Checking and Corrective Action

System Audits

Management Review

EMS Benefits

Waste is sign of inefficiency and lower operating cost are a direct consequence of waste minimum or energy efficiency programs. Implementing an EMS assists companies to identify opportunities to reduce raw material, utility and waste disposal costs. This will make a direct positive contribution to your company's profits.

Improvement through an EMS

Improvement through an EMS

What is ISO 14001?

In response to the growing concern about the environment, an international team of environmental experts developed a series of environmental management system standards known as the ISO 14000 series. Although all of the standards in the series are voluntary, there is only one against which a company can be certified, ISO 14001 requires the development of a management system to proactively control factors that would lead to undesired environmental impacts if left uncontrolled. The standard rests on the premise that environmental performance is optimized by controlling the precursors to undesired events, rather than waiting for the events to occur and then correcting it.

ISO 14001 specifies a standards for an EMS, not environmental performance requirements. In addition, it does not dictate corporate policies or prescribe specific solutions or procedures. Rather, ISO 14001 is designed to ensure that management systems are in place and employee commitment is established for the implementation of a sound, cost effective environmental program.

It is helpful to recognize some important points about an ISO 14001.

ISO 14001 is a journey, not a destination. It is process standard, not a performance standard.

You are required to document a commitment to compliance and have a system in place to ensure compliance and improved EMS performance.

ISO 14001 does not tell you how to manage or what to manage. That is up to organization. An ISO 14001- based EMS defines the critical management elements and process that must be in place and followed in order to control the impact of your organization on the environment.

It was designed to be applicable to all organizations: large and small manufacturers, service organization, and public organizations.

ISO 14001 is achieved through

Identifying environmental aspects & impacts

Identifying legal requirements

Writing an environmental policy

Training staff and sub-contractors

Controlling significant impact

Setting objectives and targets and Programme to improve performance

Preparing documentation

Internal audits of the EMS

Reviewing progress

ISO 14001 - Benefits

EMS is not about paperwork - it should deliver real benefits:
∑ Customers
∑ Images / credibility
∑ Internationally recognized
∑ Legislative compliance
∑ Cost control
∑ Risk management

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ISO 14001 : 1996 Specification

1.  Scope

This International Standard specifies requirements for an Environmental Management System, to enable an organization to formulate a policy and objectives taking into account legislative requirements and information about significant environmental impacts. It applies to those environmental aspects, which the organization can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence. It does not itself state specific environmental performance criteria.

This International Standard is applicable to any organization that wishes to

a)    implement, maintain and improve an environmental management system;

b)    assure itself of its conformance with its stated environmental policy;

c)    demonstrate such conformance to others;  

d)    seek certification/registration of its environmental management system by an external organization;     

e)    make a self-determination and self-declaration of conformance with this International Standard.

All the requirements in this International Standard are intended to be incorporated into any environmental management system. The extend of the application will depend on such factors as the environmental policy of the organization, the nature of this activities and the conditions in which it operates. This International Standard also provides, in annex A, informative guidance on the use of the specification.

The scope of any application of this International Standard must be clearly identified.

NOTE- For ease of use, the sub clause of the specification and annex A have related numbers; thus, for example, 4.3.3 and A.3.3 both deal with environmental objectives and targets, and 4.5.4 and A.5.4 both deal with environmental management system audit.

2.   Normative References
There are no normative references at present.

3.  Definitions

For the purposes of this International Standard, the following definitions apply.

3.1 Continual Improvement

process of enhancing the environmental management system to achieve improvements in overall environmental performance in line with the organizationís environmental policy.

NOTE- The process need not take place in all areas of activity simultaneously.

3.2 Environment
surroundings in which an organization operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans and their interrelation.

NOTE Ė Surroundings in this context extend from within an organization of the global system.

3.3 Environmental Aspect
element of an organizationís activities, products or services that can interact with the environment.

NOTE Ė A significant environmental aspect is an environmental aspect that has or can have a significant environmental impact.

3.4 Environmental Impact
any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organizationís activities, products or services.

3.5 Environmental Management System

the part of the overall management system that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, process and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the environmental policy.

3.6 Environmental Management System Audit

a systematic and documented verification process of objectively obtaining and evaluating evidence to determine whether an organizationís environmental management system conforms to the environmental management system audit criteria set by the organization and for communication of the results of this process to management.

3.7 Environmental Objective

overall environmental goal, arising from the environmental policy that an organization sets itself to achieve, and which is quantified where practicable.

Environmental Performance

measurable results of the environmental management system, related to an organizationís control of its environmental aspects, based on its environmental policy, objectives and targets.

3.9 Environmental Policy

statement by the organization of its intentions and principles in relation to its overall environmental performance, which provides a framework for action and for the setting of its environmental objectives and targets.

3.10 Environmental Target

detailed performance requirement quantified where practicable, applicable to the organization or parts thereof that arises from the environmental objectives and that needs to be set and met in order to achieve those objectives.

3.11 Interested Party

individual or group concerned with or affected by the environmental performance of an organization.


company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration.

NOTE Ė For organizations with more than one operating unit, a single operating unit may be defined as an organization.

3.13 Prevention of Pollution

use of processes, practices, materials or products that avoid, reduce or control pollution, which may include recycling, treatment, process changes, control mechanisms, efficient use of resources and material substitution.

NOTE Ė The potential benefits of prevention of pollution include the reduction of adverse environmental impacts, improved efficiency and reduced costs.

4.  Environmental Management System Requirements 

4.1  General Requirements

the organization shall establish and maintain an environmental management system, the requirements of which are described in the whole of clause 4.

4.2  Environmental policy

Top management shall define the organizationís environmental policy and ensure that it-

a)    is appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of its activities, products or services;

b)    includes a commitment to continual improvement and prevention of pollution;

c)    includes a commitment to comply with relevant environmental legislationís and regulations, and with other requirements to which the organization subscribes;

d)    provides the framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives and targets;

e)    is documented, implemented and maintained and communicated to all employees;

f)     is available to the public.

4.3  Planning

4.3.1   Environmental aspects

the organization shall establish and maintain (a) procedure(s) to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products or services that it can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence, in order to determine those, which have or can have significant impacts on the environment. The organization shall ensure that the aspects related to these significant impacts are considered in setting its environmental objects.

The organization shall keep this information up-to-date.

4.3.2  Legal and other requirements

the organization shall establish and maintain a procedure to identify and have access to legal and other requirements to which the organization subscribes, that are applicable to the environmental aspects of its activities, products or services.

4.3.3  Objectives and Targets

the organization shall establish and maintain documented environmental objectives and targets, at each relevant function and level within the organization.

When establishing and reviewing its objectives, an organization shall consider the legal and other requirements, its significant environmental aspects, its technological options and its financial, operational and business requirements and the views of interested parties.

The objectives and targets shall be consistent with the environmental policy, including the commitment to prevention of pollution.

4.3.4  Environmental Management Program(s)

the organization shall establish and maintain (a) program(s) for achieving its objectives and targets. It shall include

a)   designation of responsibility for achieving objectives and targets at each relevant function and level of the organization;

b)   the means and time frame by which they are to be achieved.

If a project relates to new developments and new or modified activities, products or services, program(s) shall be amended where relevant to ensure that environmental management applies to such projects.

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