Total Quality Management

January 12, 2009

ISO 14000: Environmental Standards

ISO 14000

The International Organization for Standards published its Quality Management System (ISO9000) in 1987.  ISO9000 became an instant world wide success.

In 1991, ISO formed Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE). The purpose of formation of this group was world wide increase in emphasis of management of environmental issues a part of quality management systems. This group proposed the formation of Technical Committee to develop standards that deal with environmental management system. This technical committee, TC 207 developed the standards called ISO14000.

The EMS is part of a comprehensive management system that addresses with the overall business activities, including its products and services, affect the environment.

ISO14000 Series Standards

Before we discuss ISO14000 in detail, lets begin with the clear understanding that ISO14000 is a generic standard. When we state the term generic, we mean that- like ISO9000-it is not an industry specific standard.

The series is divided into two separate areas-the organization evaluation standards  and the product evaluation standards. The first deals with Environmental Management System (EMS), Environmental Auditing (EA), and Environmental Performance Evaluation (EPE), whereas later deals with Environmental Aspects in Product Standards (EAPS), Environmental Labeling (EL), and Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA).

See following figures to understand the division of standards as mentioned above:

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Concepts of ISO 14001:2004 Standards

In this post we will particularly discuss ISO 14001:2004 because this standards is the heart of all the environmental standards. This standard provides organizations with the elements of for an environmental systems, which can be integrated into other management systems to help achieve environmental and economic goals.

This standard provide guidelines for registration and/or self-declaration of the organization’s environmental management systems. This standard is written in a manner that it can be applicable to all types and sizes of organizations. This standard is also capable to accommodate diverse geographical, cultural, and social conditions.

The demonstration of successful implementation of the system can be used to assure other parties that an appropriate EMS is in place. The basic approach to Environmental System can be understood with the help of following diagram:

Environmental Management System Model

Environmental Management System Model

ISO 14001:2004 works as follows:

  • As stated earlier in this post that ISO1400o is generic in nature. It does not  intend to specify the level of environmental performance of an organization. If that had been the case, ISO would have written it according to the specific activity of each business.
  • However, ISO has developed many other environmental standards that  deal with specific environmental standards. These standards are beyond the scope of ISO14001:2004 standards at the moment.
  • ISO14001:2004 provide a framework to the organizations so that they could communicate about EMS matters with the other stakeholders including customers, environmental regulators, the public and so forth.
  • It also provides framework to the organizations-irrespective of their current level of environmental maturity-to remain committed for environmental management and its continual improvement as well.

Source: Total Quality Management by Dale H. Besterfield

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