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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Environmental Management System and Audit: History and Overview of ISO 14000, and comparison with EUšs Eco-Management & Audit Scheme
Tomasz Swinarski
REPORT 2000 SW62 Public Affairs Library

In a broad sense, a management system includes setting goals and priorities, assignment of responsibilities for accomplishing them, measuring and reporting on results, and external verification of claims. Management system standards are process standards, and as such, they do not set performance values. On the contrary, they provide a way of systematically setting and managing performance commitments, i.e., they are concerned with establishing "how to" achieve a goal, and not "what" the goal is supposed to be.

ISO 14000 Environmental Standards are being developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 207. The scope of TC 207 is standardization in the field of environmental management tools and systems. Hence, the standards apply to environmental management tools and systems; they are not product standards, nor do they specify performance or pollutant/effluent levels.

The ISO 14000 standards take much of their approach, structure, and inspiration from the ISO 9000 quality standards. Like ISO 9000, the ISO 14000 standards are management standards and not performance specifications. Just as ISO 9000 does not call for nor guarantee a quality product, ISO 14000 does not establish required performance levels. TC 207 cooperates closely with ISO TC 176 on Quality Management (developers of ISO 9000) in the field of environmental management systemsš audits. The ISO 14000 series, being an Environmental Management System and Audit standard, addresses a wide range of issues, including: (1) committing top management to continuous improvement, compliance, and pollution prevention; (2) creating and implementing environmental policies, including setting and meeting appropriate targets; (3) integrating environmental considerations in operating procedures; (4) training employees in regard to their environmental obligations; and (5) conducting audits of the environmental management system. Specifically excluded are: (1) test methods for pollutants; (2) setting limit values regarding pollutants or effluents; (3) setting environmental performance levels; and (4) standardization of products.

ISO 14000, as a series of standards on environmental management tools and systems, deals with a companyšs system for managing its day-to-day operations as they have an impact on the environment. It is applicable to all types and sizes of organizations in all geographical, cultural, and social conditions. What benefits are anticipated from ISO 14000? The most obvious benefit of a single international standard is the worldwide focus it brings to environmental management. The commercial benefit will be to harmonize national rules, labels, and methods, thus minimizing trade barriers and complications, and promoting predictability and consistency. It will also enhance environmental performance in that conformance to ISO 14000 will maintain regulatory compliance, provide a framework to move beyond compliance, and demonstrate commitment to environmental management.