Company News » British companies welcome umbrella standard – ISO14001

British companies welcome umbrella standard – ISO14001

ISO14001 applications set to increase as companies seek shelter from a deluge of UK environmental laws.

Applications to the British Standards Institute for
environmental certification increased significantly in 2008, because companies
can use it to simplify the process of adhering to various environmental
legislation and requirements.

Nikki Sanne, BSI’s head of product marketing, says there has been a sharp
increase in applications from companies for the certificate in the past 12
months, from FTSE-100 companies to SMEs ­ and double-digit growth in the number
of applications since 2005.

Large companies, in particular, are moving towards implementing environmental
polices to save on energy bills, and customers and shareholders alike are
showing more interest in a company’s ethical and social responsibilities.

“Stakeholders are becoming more aware of the environmental impact companies
are having and they want to know all about them,” Sanne says.

Proof of compliance
The certificate proves the holder is compliant with all applicable environmental
legislation in Britain for three years from the date of issue and is used by
companies, such as J Sainsbury and PricewaterhouseCoopers, to help implement an
enterprise-wide environmental impact reduction strategy.

Certificated companies’ environmental management systems can be reviewed as
many times as the BSI sees fit.

About 130,000 companies internationally hold an ISO14001 certificate, while
in the UK the BSI certifies and audits about 5,000 annually.

It says British companies are seeing the ISO14001 certificate as an umbrella
standard. Companies facing increasing pressure to comply with more laws and
regulations governing carbon emissions reduction, waste management and saving
energy, are turning to a more streamlined solution to compliance and cost-saving
measures. The standard also covers companies’ compliance requirements, including
European Emissions Trading Scheme, environmental Key Performance Indicators ­
for example, when reporting a business review ­ and the implementation of
targets under the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment.

BSI recommends that any company considering applying for ISO14001 should
first conduct a company-wide review to add up the environmental impact of the
business. This should include all units and divisions, assessing everything from
how each of its products impacts the environment in day-to-day operations, as
well as its impact in an accident or emergency.

“The first point to address is the issue of managing and reducing. You need
to know where the impacts are and only when that is established can you begin
working to reduce those,” says Sanne.

Once a company has reviewed its impact, it must assess its adherence to the
requirements of the standard, including implementation of an environmental
management system. This system should take into account everything from fuel
usage and water consumption, to carbon emissions output and climate change
legislation compliance. The environmental management system’s effectiveness is
then audited by BSI in order to obtain certification.

The requirements
To acquire a certificate, a company must:
• Show an established and appropriate environmental policy;
• Show identification of environmental aspects arising from the organisations’
existing or planned activities, products and services;
• Identify the applicable legal requirements and other requirements to which the
organisation must adhere;
• Set appropriate environmental objectives and targets;
• Establish a policy or programme to implement methods that will achieve the
objectives and targets;
• Facilitate planning, control, monitoring, preventive and corrective actions,
auditing and review activities to ensure the policy is complied with and that
the environmental management system remains appropriate;
• Put procedures in place to deal with changing circumstances; and
• Document and maintain a continual improvement to the environmental management

Steve Sherwood, director of infrastructure operations at
PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes the international standard creates a “common
language” companies can more easily adhere to, which helps businesses instill
environmental discipline.

“The point of pursuing a standard is that you have to re-visit the systems
and processes and manage and measure all of it,” Sherwood says. “It really helps
focus your mind on the environmental management system and process priorities,”
he adds.

There are a series of standards relating to the ISO14001 certificate that
provide a guide for companies seeking compliance:
• ISO14004: A brief outline on developing and implementing an environmental
management system;
• ISO14012: A guide to environmental audits; and
• ISO14030: Information on how to monitor and achieve targets using an
environmental management system.

PwC’s Sherwood says ISO14001 is an opportunity for FDs to shout about their
green credentials, as the Big Four auditor sought and achieved its own UK
certificate last December.

“It’s about making that clear declaration, not just to our market but to our
clients as well,” he says. “It helps the company streamline, improve and save
money. It made us realise that we could be constantly learning and has given us
the incentive to constantly look at our environmental management systems.”

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