TOPICS

ISO 14000 Standards, Environment and Society

ISO 14000 Standards, Environment and Society

By Prof. Norberto I. Schinitman

The international standard ISO 14001, which is voluntary for organizations to adopt, establishes environmental objectives of high value for society such as "keeping pollution prevention and environmental protection in balance with socioeconomic needs".

For humanity to survive, a new way of thinking is required. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Introduction

Fortunately, we have reached a time when large sectors of society recognize the urgent need to protect the environment (or better, in Spanish, simply "environment"), carefully take advantage of our invaluable natural resources and prevent pollution, minimizing the negative environmental impacts. It should be kept in mind that the prevention of pollution in organizations includes the use of procedures, products and materials that prevent or reduce pollution, as well as recycling, efficient use of resources, etc. (In keeping with the ISO 14001 Standard, organization is understood to be any company, firm, company, authority or institution, public or private, that has its own functions and administration).

Likewise, it is recognized that the current scenario requires governments, industries and consumers to act quickly and effectively to protect the environment. Concurrently, it has already become apparent that many of the great social and environmental problems are very closely linked.

Starting from the outlined situation, in this introductory work I will try to make explicit, from my position as Environmental Educator and Environmental Auditor, with a holistic approach, associating aspects of Non-Formal Public Environmental Education and Organizational Environmental Problems and Training, the importance and value of the ISO 14000 Series Standards (in force in Argentina as IRAM ISO 14000 Series Standards) for the company.

In addition, I will try to establish a conceptual framework of reference between certain relevant aspects of these standards, sustainable development, prevention of pollution and protection of the environment. Finally, I will present summarized in tables some important aspects dealt with in this work.

It is known and accepted by all that the development and industrial production of certain goods are essential to satisfy the needs of human beings and improve their quality of life. However, while it is true that industrialization has contributed positively to improving people's nutrition, health, well-being, safety and comfort, it is also well known that, at the same time, immoderate development has caused severe environmental impacts. adverse effects on the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land from which we obtain the nutrients that sustain us and other irreplaceable natural resources.

Certainly, the current trend is promoting a development and production model that must take into account the prevention of pollution and the efficient and responsible use of humanity's resources, both natural, human and economic.

In this sense, for purposes of protecting the environment, the governments of different countries have responded by establishing a legal framework of provisions that address different aspects of the environment. But, in certain cases, the provisions are insufficient, they are not very clear, they are difficult to implement and control, and they vary with certain frequency, according to the advances in technology, which makes their application difficult.

Therefore, a perspective to achieve environmental protection in a more or less flexible way, without depending only on current legal regulations, is for organizations or companies to apply environmental norms, patterns or standards in their operations for the production of goods and services. internal, accepted internationally. In practice, this approach constitutes the precept that serves as the basis for the Environmental Management Standards of the ISO 14000 Series, aimed at providing companies with an appropriate methodology to properly implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) aimed at protecting the environment. . The EMS, which is a part of the organization's overall management system, includes the organization, planning, responsibilities, practices and procedures for implementing and maintaining the environmental policy.

The international standard ISO 14001, which is voluntary for organizations to adopt, establishes environmental objectives of high value for society such as "keeping pollution prevention and environmental protection in balance with socioeconomic needs". It is clear that the adoption of certain environmental management methodologies and the best available technology can contribute to a better environmental performance, but it should be noted that the adoption of the Standard does not, by itself, guarantee optimal environmental results.

Sustainable Development, a promising objective of the Standards

It is evident that the objectives presented in the previous section tend to Sustainable or Sustainable Development (SD), which is one of the preponderant environmental protection actions, of extreme importance, established in Agenda 21 of the historic Rio Summit (1992). SD can be conceptualized as a style or mode of development that allows meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, or also as the level of use of a natural resource in which the resources are maximized. benefits without damaging the potential for future similar benefits. Likewise, sustainable development has multiple objectives, which is why, when planning development, it is necessary to consider, among others, the maintenance of environmental quality, human well-being and economic security.

In addition, the current concept of SD, to whose achievement one can contribute through the application of ISO 14001, considers that this does not constitute an invariable stage of harmony and foresees certain limitations for the use of natural resources, subjecting it - in addition to to the current state of technology and social organization - to the capacity of the biosphere to absorb by-products and waste resulting from multiple human activities. Together, this concept involves the need to achieve, at the same time, substantial changes in the values ​​of society and the adoption of new modes of relationship, both between human beings, and between them and the environment.

Application of the Standards; benefits for the environment and the company

By implementing and maintaining an EMS that meets ISO 14001, companies engage in an efficient environmental management program. Furthermore, since it is an international standard, organizations that obtain the corresponding certification can maintain and increase their competitiveness in the market.

In many cases, companies have found that their competitors are trying to obtain their certification and that consumers are beginning to demand their certification. In fact, many large companies that have already obtained their certification require their suppliers to obtain it as well. Likewise, the implementation of an EMS that complies with ISO 14001 is highly desirable. Among the resulting benefits, both for the environment and society and for organizations, the following can be mentioned:

Contribute to Sustainable Development.
Prevent pollution.
Protect the environment.
Identify the sectors where the consumption of energy and other resources can be reduced.
Reduce pollution, emissions and the generation of waste.
Reduce environmental risk.
Support compliance with the legal framework and the generation of adequate environmental legislation.
Exhibit environmental leadership through certified compliance with international standards.
Respond appropriately to the demands of consumers, NGOs, shareholders and others.
Win the goodwill of the community.
Take advantage of the demand for "green" products.
Demonstrate the intention to generate high quality products and / or services.

Conception and generation of ISO standards, a shared effort

Let's see next how the rules are generated. The International Standardization Organization, or International Standardization Organization (ISO), created in 1946, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, is the body in charge of promoting the development of international standards, of voluntary adoption, on aspects of environmental management and manufacturing of products, supply of services, trade and communication for numerous industrial branches. The more than 100 member countries send governmental and non-governmental delegations to ISO, and a number of subcommittees have been formed to develop the specific Standards.

The Standards are developed on the basis of voluntary consensus. The member countries issue normative proposals, which are agreed with those of other countries. The preliminary versions of the proposed norms are considered in the member countries, where various governmental organizations, NGOs, industrialists and other interested parties can participate in their study. Each member country then issues a written comment and then an official vote. Finally, the official positions of the members are discussed and agreed upon.

Implementation of ISO 14001 in different organizations

Let's see next, a sequence of stages that makes explicit how to implement the ISO 14001 standard in organizations, highlighting the aspects of environmental interest.

As previously stated, ISO 14001 is aimed at providing any type of organization with an adequate general methodology for the implementation, maintenance and constant improvement of an Environmental Management System (EMS), and requires the Organizations to adopt them voluntarily, the implementation of a set of procedures and practices that, as a whole, make up the EMS.

On the other hand, and this is very important, if an organization considers that its EMS is efficient, it can make a "Self-declaration of compliance" with ISO 14001, without the certification of an external body. Such a self-declaration is useful when customers and consumers of the organization's products or services are willing to accept it.

It is important to note that ISO 14000 are not technical standards, so they do not replace the requirements or guidelines provided in the current legal regulations.

The application of ISO 14001 in organizations can be carried out by fulfilling the following main stages:

to. The organization conceives, establishes, writes and puts into effect the Environmental Policy (PA) that is ratified and supported by the highest level of leadership. This PA must contain an explicit commitment to pollution prevention, continuous improvement leading to better environmental performance and compliance with the corresponding environmental legislation. The PA must be made known to the staff of the organization itself and disseminated to other interested parties, such as national, provincial, municipal authorities, local forces and neighbors.

b. Identification and monitoring mechanisms are established for all aspects of the organization's activities, products and services that may cause significant environmental impacts, including those that are not yet legally regulated.

c. Performance goals are set for the EMS related to the commitments set forth in the PA: pollution prevention, continuous environmental improvement, and regulatory compliance.

d. The EMS is implemented for the fulfillment of the foreseen goals, including the training and environmental education of the personnel, the preparation and completion of documents and training meetings and work practices. In addition, it is predetermined how the achievement or achievement of the goals will be measured.

and. The organization's senior management level periodically reviews the EMS, at pre-established times, with sufficient frequency to confirm its validity, effectiveness and validity and to make the pertinent adjustments.

F. A duly accredited certifying organization performs the relevant environmental audits and certifies the process and compliance with the ISO 14001 standard. These Audits consist of periodic verification processes to determine if the EMS conforms to the provisions, including the requirements of ISO 14001, and it is properly implemented. Its results are communicated at the highest level of leadership in the organization. The audits are in charge of Environmental Auditors, qualified professionals with the necessary certifications.

Economic expectations

Finally, let us bear in mind that, in the long term, in most companies, the cost reduction and market gains resulting from the application of ISO 14001 are very important and exceed the investments necessary for the implementation of the standard.

Formative Synopsis

Next, relevant aspects of ISO 14001 dealt with in this work are summarized in brief tables, with pedagogical focus and purposes.

- Basic criterion of International Environmental Standards

In order to achieve environmental protection in a flexible and generalized way, without depending solely on the legal regulations in force in each country, it is advisable for organizations or companies to apply internal environmental norms, patterns or standards in their operations of production of goods and services, accepted to international level.

- Objective of the ISO 14001 Standard

Maintain the prevention of pollution and the protection of the environment in balance with socioeconomic needs. This objective tends to Sustainable or Sustainable Development (SD).

- Sustainable development
Style or mode of development that allows meeting the current needs of humanity without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own requirements; or also the level of use of a natural resource in which benefits are maximized without damaging the potential for future similar benefits.

- Environmental, social and business benefits of the application of the ISO 14001 Standard

Contribute to achieving Sustainable Development.

Prevent pollution Protect the environment.

Identify the sectors of the organization where the consumption of energy and other resources can be reduced.

Reduce pollution, emissions and the generation of waste.
Reduce risk and environmental impacts.
Reduce raw material and energy costs.
Support compliance with the legal framework and the generation of adequate environmental legislation.
Respond appropriately to the demands of consumers, NGOs, shareholders and others.
Improve the image of the company.
Win the goodwill of the community.
Take advantage of the demand for "green" products.
Demonstrate the intention to generate high quality products and / or services.
Increase the possibilities of accessing the international market.

Sequence of actions for the application in various organizations of the ISO 14001 Standard

to. The organization conceives, establishes and puts into effect an Environmental Policy (PA) that must be ratified and supported by the highest level of leadership; Contain a commitment related to continuous improvement leading to better environmental performance, pollution prevention, and compliance with current environmental legislation, and be made known to the organization's staff and other interested parties.

b. Identification and monitoring mechanisms are established for all aspects of the organization's activities, products and services that may cause significant environmental impacts, including those not yet legally regulated.

c. Performance goals are established for the EMS (Environmental Management System) related to the commitments foreseen in the PA: pollution prevention, continuous environmental improvement and regulatory compliance.

d. The EMS is implemented to meet the goals set, including staff training, training meetings, and work practices. It is predetermined how the achievement or achievement of the goals will be measured.

and. A duly accredited certification organization verifies, audits and certifies the process and compliance with the ISO 14001 Standard.

Organizations that find their EMS to be efficient can issue an ISO 14001 "Self-Declaration of Compliance", without external certification, which is useful if their customers and consumers are willing to accept it.

Bibliography:

Clements, R. B. (2000). Complete Guide to ISO 14000 Standards. Barcelona: Management.
Elliott, C. (2003). A WWF perspective on ISO 14001. http://iso.org/iso/en/pdf.iso900014000/articles/pdf/ viewpoint_ 2-01. pdf
IRAM. (1997). IRAM-ISO 14000 Series standards.
Standards Council of Canada. (2002). What is ISO 14000 ?. http://www.scc.ca/faq/30/31_html#3.1.1
* Prof. Schinitman Biochemist, Master in Environmental Education, Environmental Auditor /
Biochemist, Master of Environmental Education, Environmental Auditor Córdoba, Argentina E-mail [email protected]


Video: Implementation of ISO 14000: The Emerging Standards for Global Environmental Quality Part 1 (June 2021).