The ISO 14001 Policy is based in part on the findings and conclusions of the Initial Environmental Review as per ISO 14001 standard. A number of important factors need to be considered. These are essential to ensure that the policy relates not only to the enterprises individual needs and ideas, but is also in line with recognized environmental good practice and any relevant industry-specific guidelines. If the enterprise is interested in working towards ISO 14001 certification of its environmental management system (now or in the future) then it may also be important to ensure that the iso 14001 policy will conform to the requirements of such a standard.
Content of the Environmental Policy
An Environmental Policy should clearly delineate the environmental areas to be addressed by the enterprise of Organization and should be relevant to its activities, products and /or services. The policy may address very broad aspects of the enterprise’s activities (such as waste reduction), depending on the nature of those activities. Many environmental policies also include aspects of occupational health and safety including statements regarding the working environment.
The principles for environmental management system contained in the ISO Business Charter for Sustainable Development and Rio Declaration on Environmental and Development may be use as the starting point for the development of an Environmental Policy, which is specific to the needs, and character of an enterprise.
Following are the general principles of the developing ISO 14001 policy
- Define extent of environmental responsibility (customers, suppliers, staff etc.)
- Ensure minimum of compliance with legislation
- Establish system to ensure full control of environmental situation (impact and risks)
- Embody life cycle thinking
- Work towards the achievement of sustainable development
- Commit to development and implementation of an environmental system
- Provide adequate resources for environmental management.
- Provide for development of corporate standards in the absence of legislation.
- Make commitment to continual improvement in environmental performance (step by step); this is also a requirement in EMS –standard, such as ISO 14001
- Make commitment to prevention of pollution if compliance with ISO 14001 is intended
- Develop Environmental performance evaluation procedures and indicators
Some ideas for the content and wording of statements of commitment in an ISO14001 Environmental Policy are given above. However, these should not be copied as such and should always be placed in context. The policy must be appropriate to the individual enterprise. It may be as brief as one sentence or as long as 10 pages.
Other important sources of information for input into the Environmental Policy development process include the following:
- The result of the Initial Environmental review
- The enterprise’s value and beliefs, such as its (desired) relationship with its employees, the local community and the general public.
- The enterprise’s business strategy and strategic plan elements relating to the enterprise’s (environmental) direction, opportunities and risks, medium and long term planning including internal and external limits, and opportunities in capabilities and resources.
- Any existing statement on environmental aspects; mission statements, old policies, previous statements of commitment in internal/external reports.
- Other policies in existence: such as occupational health, safety, quality
- The views of stakeholders (shareholders, staff) and other interested parties
- Written standards: available recognised standards for environmental management system which include prescribed elements for Environmental Policy statements
- General statements of environmental principles: e.g. from government, public bodies, industry associations, which are relevant to the individual enterprise
- Other codes to which the enterprise subscribes
- Examples of Environmental Policy statements: from similar companies or enterprises
- Clear definition of the geographical and organizational boundaries of the policy: which countries/regions and which sites, departments or activities are to covered by the policy
- Any specific local or regional conditions.
It is therefore worthwhile spending time to ensure that the environmental policy provides and exact statement of the enterprise’s objectives and can be used as a basis for the development of targets and the environmental program.