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Custom Environmental Management System essay paper sample

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This is a framework designed to manage an organization's environmental aspects and their impacts. In most organizations, the elements of the EMS are almost the same in most organizations. Majority of the organizations have adopted the structures which have been specified in the international standards which sets out the requirements for the Environmental management systems, these are in most cases assessed and certified in accordance.

ISO 14001 is the global leader in the Environmental Management systems especially in terms of the deployment and the acceptance. The International Standards Organization(ISO) in its definition explains the 14001(1)Environmental Management System as the a section of the overall management systems which includes the organizational structure, way of planning its activities , the responsibilities, the practices, procedures and the resources assigned for the development, implementation, achievement, reviewing  and the maintenance of the environmental policy. (Saponara & Roig, 1998; Block &Marilyn R. Block (Author)› Visit Amazon's Marilyn R. Block PageFind all the books, read about the author, and more Marash, 2000; Hewitt & Gary, 1998; Gayle, 1999; Cheremisinoff & Bendavid, 2001)

ISO 14001 is intended to provide the organizations with assistance and the framework structure which helps in the prevention or reduction of the environmental impacts that results from the organizations processes, products and the services, ISO 14001 covers all organizations irrespective of the sector, size, structure or the demographic location.

The ISO 14001 certification has no requirements for the companies to achieve any particular environmental outcome, it only requires the organizations to demonstrate the level of their commitment to comply with the environmental laws as the platform on which to operate and demonstrate the continual improvements by preventing pollution. The company which is implementing the ISO 14001 is not confined by the rules but it can make its choice on the environmental aspects that it is capable of improving, it can also specify to degree of improvement on the yearly basis. In such a scenario, it implies that two companies operating in the same industry but based on the different countries which differ in terms of the environmental laws impact the environment differently, although both are certified by the ISO 14001.

The lack of prescriptiveness in the ISO 14001 policies makes some people to view it as being ineffective. This has implications that a company that is in need of certification ISO standards with the aim of exercising its environmental friendliness for the market advantage can get certified in a simple way that does not involve drastic changes. A critical analysis of the ISO 14001 reveals that company might be operating a heavily polluting business in a given country that  has tough environmental laws but still cause damages to the environment and still be qualified to be certified by ISO 14001.

The advantage of this flexibility that is offered by ISO 14001is brought by the fact that it allows the companies are not environmentally conscious especially to the environmental performance to be responsible by initiating the mechanisms which enable them to allocate management time and resource to the environmental aspects. A better environmental policy which ensures the  reduction in the waste and proper utilization of the resources in a more appropriate and efficient manner will enable the companies to save money as a result of  better environmental management practices which reduces the unnecessary expenses in the form of fines. This way the attitude of the company managers can be changed since they will be seeing the requirements for ISO certification in a positive manner. This kind of flexibility enhances a sound environmental management scheme which has the benefits of attaining its market value, since it has great contributions to the health of the business.

On the other side, there is a more serious disadvantage of the traditional ISO 14001 management system certification. This arises since it gives the potential for the companies to waste their valuable time and money by initiating the unnecessary management practices that can be applied only in making small changes. The company that focuses mainly on the compliance with the existing environmental laws can be achieve more environmental benefits as opposed to the ISO 14001 which perpetuates the focus on the short-term solutions that which become obsolete within the shortest period of time, due to the unpredictable direction of the environmental legislation which keeps on changing with either the supplier demand or the natural limits especially in determination of the resource availability. This can also lead to the wastage in the assimilative capacity of the company. Therefore the company which makes the choice of implementing the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System makes sure that it has developed the right framework to be employed in its decision-making process that supports its efforts to come up with a strategic vision which will enable it to gain profit from the implementation of its policies.

ISO 14001 has a lot of benefits to the organization whereby its usage will lead to the more efficient use of the key energy types and the materials thereby resulting into the reduced waste products and reduced costs. The ISO 14001 gives the organization its mandate to exercise control over the aspects of the environment and the impacts on the processes, its products and the services by allowing the organizations internal experts to examine the situation. The company also benefits from the reduction in the risks of the legal issues which may include prosecution due to poor environmental practices and the reduced insurance premiums as a result of the reduced risks.

A case study of the 3M Corporation

The 3M is a large company with its headquarters at St. Paul, MN; it produces multiple products for industrial, commercial, consumer and the health care.

In 1990, the 3M Corporation began its major waste reduction efforts. According to the 3M, the term 'waste' is used in reference to what remains after the raw materials have been converted into the products and the by-products. During the one year period of 1993, the resource recovery activities in the United States. Recovered and sold almost 199 million pounds of the waste papers, the plastics, solvents, metals, and other by-products.

From 1989, the 3M Corporation has been able to rise over $156 million from the reclamation and sale of the manufacturing waste. At one incidence, the employees of 3M Corporation plant in Brazil were able to develop a waste reduction program; they reclaimed waste materials and sold for over $150,000 this led to the reduction of the waste disposal costs by over $90,000.

The 3M's technical employees have conceived and implemented 4,590 pollution solutions under the 3P program. For example, a resin spray booth had been annually producing about 500,000 pounds of overspray that required special incineration disposal. New equipment was installed to eliminate excessive overspray. The new design reduced the amount of resin used, saving more that $125,000 a year, on a $45,000 investment in equipment. Environmental management system manual indicating how the system developed matches the requirements of ISO 14001.

The 3M Corporation has been advancing towards a more formal documentation of the EMS. In 1994, 3M initiated a more formal EMS for its international locations; it also initiated its plans for implementing the system on a global basis. The 3M Corporation's vision and mission statement are as follows:

Vision: 3M Corporation practices the sustainable development by continuously improving the environmental performance of its products and the processes.Mission: The Environmental Management System (EMS) will ensure the 3M Corporation complies with the global regulations and its policies and the EMS will facilitate for the continuous improvement of the environmental performance. Once the initial self-assessment had been completed, 3M used its internal division resources to review the identified gaps and defined an implementation plan. It ensured that the implementation plan described the logical sequence of the events.

The follow-up efforts were assigned as the responsibility of the Irvine site; the facilities also utilized the division-level resources. A division representative mainly trained in the ISO 9000 auditing played a significant role in development of the Environmental Management System documents. Due to the fact that there are many similarities between the ISO 9000 and the ISO14001, some of the documented EMS procedures were uplifted directly from the Irvine's ISO 9001 Quality Manual. (Drury, 2009)  The procedures included the following areas:

  • The training procedure, creation of awareness, and the competence
  • The Management system documentation
  • The document control
  • The process of monitoring and measurement (the calibration of the equipments for both process and testing purposes)
  • The checks for Nonconformance (the corrective and preventive actions/the root causes for analysis and closure)
  • The record's identification and the retention
  • Management system auditing for both the internal and the external
  • The Management review

Apart from writing of a site-specific Environmental Management Systems Policy Manual, The 3M Corporation also developed the Standard Operating Procedures to address all the aspects of the ISO 14001.The 3M Corporation's ISO 14001 certification audit was carried out for the first time in June 1996, it received its certification to the ISO 14001 DIS in July 1996.

It is evident that certain types of guidance have been proved to be very important for all types of organizations, irrespective of their sizes but as long as they are attempting to implement the ISO14001. This guidance includes:

  • The clarification of the intention of the ISO 14001 Standards
  • The checklist or other tools that can be used to conduct an Environmental Management System for self-assessment
  • A guidance on the identification and assessment of the significance of the environmental aspects and the impacts

 •The step-by-step implementation guide;

  • Examples of the Environmental Management System manuals, policies, and the procedures

These have been discussed below. (Grier, 2002)

Clarification of the intent of ISO 14001

This is the clarification of the intention of the ISO 14001 Standards. The Authors intention in the language of the Standards, and the way the registrars will interpret it. The interpretation of the Standards is necessary for all organizations to be able to advance forward with the implementation particularly the registration, the possibilities for problems arising from the creation of a single authoritative interpretation of the Standard must also be considered (Woodward, 2007).

The SubTAG 1 of the United States Technical Advisory Group established the formal process to respond to the issues that are submitted by the interested parties concerning the interpretation of the ISO 14001 Standard. This provision intends to clarify on the issues based on the harmonized interpretation of the Standard. The list of the interpretations concerning the ISO 140041are provided. It has been suggested that the best way to understand the intent of ISO 14001 is through reading the Environmental Management Systems  implementation guidance documents, such as the ISO 14004 " The Environmental management systems; the General guidelines on the principles, systems and the supporting techniques". The guidance for the small and medium-sized organizations which was developed by NSF International is also another useful document (Kwai-Sang, Simon, & Rao, 1999)

A Checklist to Conduct an EMS Self-Assessment

The first step for the organization which is considering the implementation of the ISO 14001 is to carry out the initial assessment on its current environmental management practices.  3M corporation used the checklist developed by the Global Environmental Management Initiative this is a user-friendly checklist which helps to compare the existing environmental management practices with the requirements of ISO 14001. (Gayle, Yturri & Aurricho, 1998; Edwards, 2001; Chung, 1999; Goetsch & Davis, 2001; Holland, 2006)

Guidance on the Identification and Assessment of the Significance of the Environmental Aspects and the Impacts

The ISO 14001 encourages the organizations to go beyond the compliance by ensuring consistence in the improvement and the pollution prevention by identifying the environmental impacts and setting the objectives which address these impacts. In the past, the environmental planning was conducted mainly in response to the regulatory requirements.

Therefore, the systematic identification and the prioritization of the environmental aspects, in addition to those that are not regulated, is the new process for many organizations. The implementation guide enables the broader guidance on the environmental aspects and the impacts (McCully, 1999)

The Step-by-Step Implementation Guide

The 3M Corporation did not have much experience with the Environmental Management System; it sought the outside expertise which necessitated the planning process and the implementation process. It also made use of the Environmental Management System manuals, the policies, and procedures. These provided more information on the environmental policies, the procedures for the identification of the environmental aspects and the impacts, the monitoring and the measurement procedures, auditing procedures, the EMS manual, although an important requirement by the ISO 14001 is a very useful tool since it provides the concise overview of the system. (Parry, 1999).The following are the steps in the cycle the ISO 14001;

Environmental policy

All the iteration of the ISO 14001 cycle targets the  top management by setting a new or amending the environmental policy, since  the ISO 14001 standard have no the prescription for the guiding vision for the policy. The company does not need to have a vision which goes beyond the commitment to the compliance especially with the environmental legislation and some forms of the continual improvement of the environment through the prevention of pollution.

Planning: The company must have the guideline to help it in the identification of the environmental aspects and the legal provisions in order to carry out a complete evaluation, the company should be able to determine the aspects that can impact significantly on the environment associated with it.  The company should place its focus on the environmental impacts by setting its objectives and the targets which are measurable to help in the improvement and the process of designing the programs in order to achieve the objectives and the targets.

 Implementation and operation: After the designing of the programs, the company drafts an outline of the structure to serve as the implementation guideline for the management and after the guideline has been completed, then the management assigns the roles and the responsibilities to help in the execution of the programs. The next step involves the identification of the training needs of the employees, the training of the employees then follows by ensuring  that they have been made aware and competent enough to enable them perform  their duties responsibly. The procedures are established and maintained to ensure there is proper communication of the issues regarding the significance of the environmental impacts to the relevant employees, to the community members and other stakeholders who may be interested. The management should ensure that the main components encompassing the environmental measures are properly documented and the right procedures have been established to facilitate handling of the documents and ensure that they are updated. The operational controls should be established be reflected in all the activities which are associated with the environmental impacts that are significant.  The organization must also establish and maintain the proper procedures in order to mitigate the environmental impacts which are associated with the accidents.

Use of the Checks and the corrective actions: The organization is required to document the all the procedures that can help in the monitoring and measurement of the activities which can significantly affect the environment. There is also the need to have the right procedures to ensure that there is proper handling and investigation of the cases of nonconformance to the procedures, this takes into action by mitigating the effects which may result and take either the corrective or the preventive actions. The right procedures should be established and maintained in order to keep and maintain the environmental records as one way of demonstrating the conformance to the requirements of the ISO 14001standards. The periodic audits should be conducted to determine if the established environmental management system conforms to the standards whether it has been properly implemented and the right maintenance practices are carried out . The results of the audits are then provided to the management.

The Management review. The management is charged with the mandate evaluating the effectiveness and the suitability of the Environmental management system; it should also be ensured that regular changes are done for the purposes of improving the management systems.

The company's ability to shape its future is increased when it creates the measurable goals and correct procedures based on ISO EMS standards that can enable the feedback on the state of the programs. The cyclic process involved in the establishment and performing of the procedures can create some new patterns that are focused on the environmental impacts. In most cases the focus is on the minimum regulatory compliance, signs of improvement, and measures to prevent the activities of pollution.

Environmental Policy

This is set of the formal and documented principles and intentions with respect to the environment. The environmental policy is the guiding document for the corporate environmental improvement, it ensures the adherence to the fundamental integrity and the success of the entire EMS, this policy contains the commitments to, the continual improvement, The Prevention of pollution and the Compliance with the relevant environmental legislation (Antony & Escamilla, 2003; Kanungo, 2008; Hansen, 1998).

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