Global Fastener News

1999 FIN – ISO 14001 is Coming: Focusing on Environmental Decisions

June 25
00:00 2010

March 12, 1999 FIN – Fastener manufacturers and distributors have learned to live with the QS 9000 and ISO 9000 series. They even discuss how the certification processes have improved the way they do business.

Now another ISO series is coming. The ISO 14000 series is a set of environmental management standards (EMS) under development by an ISO technical committee since 1993.

ISO 14001, issued in 1996, is the first of the expected program. Organizations can be certified to ISO 14001 through accredited registrars just as with ISO 9001/2.

Connie Glover Ritzert, workshop instructor for ISO 14001 Implementation for Managers for the American Society for Testing & Materials said that unlike QS 9000, which is required of automotive suppliers, there has been “little experience yet with companies making ISO 14001 certification a supplier requirement. There are some companies that have sent communications to their suppliers recommending that they implement an EMS, such as ISO 14001.”
Those include Ford, IBM and Bristol-Meyers, “which have committed to certify all of their facilities worldwide to the standard.”
Ritzert listed other “name brand” companies that have implemented ISO 14001, including: Lockheed Martin, Duracell, Borg-Warner Automotive, Cooper Industries, Allied Signal, Xerox, Sony, International Paper and Kodak.

“As of January 1, 1999 there were approximately 8,000 organizations in the world with an environmental management system certified to ISO 14001,” Ritzert reported.

“ISO 14001 has been adopted more quickly in Europe and Asia than in the U.S. Japan, with 1,542, had the greatest number,” Ritzert observed. “Germany, with 1,100, was second and the United Kingdom, with 950, was third.”
The United States ranked 10th with 210 behind Taiwan, Korea and Switzerland.
But the U.S. is catching up, she pointed out. Another 65 U.S. companies have been certified in just the first two months of this year.
“These numbers do not reflect the actual usage of the standard, however, since several thousand companies are implementing an EMS based on ISO 14001 without seeking third-party certification,” Ritzert said.

The Costs of ISO 14001

Third-party certification will cost $5,000 to $25,000 initially, plus some annual surveillance fees, but costs to design and implement ISO 14001 EMS “depend on the size and complexity of the organization and how good their current system is,” Ritzert hedged. “Estimates range from $10,000 for a small firm to $250,000 or more for a major corporation.”

The Benefits of ISO 14001?

Ritzert said ISO 14001 “assists companies in focusing limited resources on the most important environmental aspects of their business and provides a systematic basis for compliance management as well as more strategic management for sustainability.”

“In the U.S. the primary driver of decisions about environmental management has been regulatory compliance,” Ritzert said. “It is to be expected that managers will be motivated to consider an ISO 14001 EMS if it will improve their ability to manage compliance. The standard requires a commitment to compliance with environmental laws and actually takes a more forward-looking approach to managing for compliance than is prevalent today.”

Ritzert cited benefits of cost control by providing management with better information for decisions, boundaries for what is to be managed, and clearer accounting for costs.
“The system is designed to predict and prevent situations which generate costs, providing better control,” Ritzert pointed out.

Though ISO 14001 “does not address risk management explicitly,” Ritzert said, “much of the purpose of environmental management is to manage risks and liabilities – to the environment and to the business.” It can help protect against the negative consequences of accidental releases, she predicted.
ISO 14001 also aids in planning and internal consistency, Ritzert added.

How will ISO 14001 change the way a fastener manufacturer operates? “If done right, it will integrate environmental considerations into business decisions and business considerations into environmental decisions,” Ritzert said. “It can provide more predictability and control over environmental issues that could affect the business.”
ISO 14001 “will create more awareness among employees of the environmental aspects of the business and will spread the responsibility functions of the company rather than assigning this to an environmental department.”

There is potential for ISO 14001 to affect how the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies work with companies.
“There is a major effort under way among the U.S. states to monitor progress and results from ISO 14001 implementation in order to evaluate its effectiveness in moving us away from command and control to more progressive environmental management,” Ritzert explained. “Depending upon the results of this data-gathering experience, an EMS based on ISO 14001 could play a major role in the future in relations between a company and regulatory agencies.”

Is ISO 14001 a paperwork nightmare? “If the system is well designed, there should not be a major paperwork increase, but this is something that takes care.”
However, “a number of companies start down a path of bureaucracy,” she acknowledged.

“Many now believe that the EMS approach is here to stay and that ISO 14001 represents a good consensus model that can add value to an organizations,” Ritzert suggested. “Anyone working in the environmental management field will need to develop a working knowledge of the ISO 14001 EMS.” ©1999/2010 Fastener Industry News

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