ISO 14000 Assistance

What Do I Do Now?

You and your facility have put forth the effort to prepare the Policies and Procedures, identified your significant Aspects and Impacts, trained your employees and received certification from a third party. Now you are faced with doing what your policies state, including addressing your significant aspects. At this point many facilities lose their direction.

Addressing those specified aspects and impacts can be a daunting challenge. You are expert in producing your product, but making that same product in a more sustainable manner may be beyond your in-house expertise. This is where the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Technical Assistance Program can help you.

With over 30 years of experience assisting Illinois manufacturers in just about every industry, we have the experience to identify improvements to your processes, support systems and building envelope to help you meet the continuous improvement requirement for maintaining your ISO Certification.

How ISTC Can Assist Your Facility:

  1. Define Environmental Management System (EMS) Scope
    Entities that are ISO 14001 certified must first define the scope included in the EMS. An Environmental Aspects and Impacts Assessment is then centered around all activities, services, and products that fall within a certified facility’s defined scope.

  2. Identify Environmental Aspects
    ISO 14001 requires certified facilities to establish a procedure to identify environmental aspects and determine those aspects that have or can have a significant impact to the environment. Certified facilities should document findings. This documentation should be kept up to date, particularly when significant or potentially impactful changes in equipment, products or services have been made. Identification should cover air, water and land impacts, as well as natural resources and wildlife.

    Aspects should be divided into direct and indirect. Direct environmental aspects are associated with activities, products, and services of the organization itself, over which it has direct control (e.g., how you manage waste on your site). However, for non-industrial organizations the focus will often be on indirect environmental aspects of their activities (e.g., how your subcontractor manages waste on your site, chain controlled aspects, customer controlled aspects).

  3. Evaluate Significant Environmental Aspects
    Each organization must establish its own criteria for significance based on a systematic review of its environmental aspects and their actual and potential impacts. In assessing the significance, consider the following:
    • potential to cause environmental harm
    • size and frequency of the aspect
    • importance to the stakeholders of the organization
    • requirements of relevant environmental legislation

Criteria to Consider for Significance

  • Required by legislation: ISTC can help identify what legal requirements your organization should monitor, control, and manage. Note, ISO stipulates that environmental aspects that are not in compliance with regulatory requirements must be resolved before the certification process can be completed, unless agreements have been made with the associated authority about them.
  • Potential for environmental harm: If extremely hazardous chemicals are used in your process, then there is a greater risk of causing environmental harm due to a spill. Similarly, in the office environment, the reduction of wasted printing to decrease the use of paper, electricity, etc. might be of greater concern than other environmental aspects.
  • Frequency of the activity: You may use some fairly harmful chemicals in specific processes or activities, but only occasionally, then these may not be considered significant potential impacts on the environment if a spill would be small and relatively contained.
  • Company stakeholders: Company stakeholders go beyond your employees, investors, and customers. Stakeholders can include members of the community around your facilities and should be considered in the assessment.

If addressing these aspects and impacts has stalled at your facility, an external assessment may help refocus efforts and stimulate your EMS.