The present paper undertakes an extensive investigation of the registration procedure of ISO 14000 and looks at the possible areas in which difficulties regarding registration are present. The paper makes use of valid information and pinpoints the problems as well their causes and how these problems can be removed. In this way the present study becomes a legitimate document on the issues present in registration process and their solution. 1- ISO 14000
The International Organization for Standardization (I. S. O. ) is Geneva-based (Switzerland) organization in which representatives from more than 100 countries sit together to work out and innovate international management standards; this is done by letting in input from business practices around the world. ISO’s core purpose is to provide a platform of global trade by developing “technological, economic, and scientific activity throughout the world” (Wall, at el. , p. 2, 1998).
International Standard Organization has a proven record of developing standards that are voluntarily but highly result-oriented; there have been other standards developed by the ISO to date such as ISO 9000 and ISO 9660. While ISO 9000 aims to cover standards for quality management practices internationally, ISO 9660 aims to foster standards for CD-ROM format policies. Other more than 100 such standards address a number of areas that enable companies to keep up with international pace by incorporating ISO standards into their business practices.
(Johnson, pp. 3-7, 1997). ISO 14000 is a voluntary tool for management and has materialized through immense efforts of the global community of business; the aim of developing ISO 14000 is to provide to international business world with a well structured method that aims to assist the companies to discipline and control their business operations with regard to their impact on environment. The system of ISO 14000, therefore, is a system of allowing business to keep away from risks and high-cost steps to address environmental issues present to a business.
ISO 14000 is seen as a vital source for cost-effective business strategy that combines daily business operations into higher and more sophisticated controls for environment safety. ISO 14000 enables companies to develop policies on their own evaluation of the environmental aspects that relate to the nature of a company’s business. ISO 14000 mandates management to commit to environmental performance, abiding by the current regulations set by this system, and continuous management dedication to improve the business conditions.
These are the only three areas in which ISO 14000 seems to be instrumental; hence there is high freedom for companies besides these three areas. There is much versatility in the ISO 14000 programs; it is not possible for even two companies that have very similar business operations and are in the same field to have closely identical ISO programs. This has great advantages as a management can have more flexibility of operation regarding environmental issues; additionally, this way adherence to ISO mandate also becomes highly possible.
Under this system a company is concerned with its own steps that it takes to conform to the environmental aspects. Flexibility of implementation is the basic essence of ISO 14000. The need for developing ISO 14000 came to materialize because of the scattered environmental rules and regulations that spread from one country to another; this situation was so disorganized that it was even possible to find two states within the same country to have two different codes for environmental issues. The result of all this was chaos and the business world lack uniformity that had an impact on international business dealings and free trade activities.
Contrary to commonly held assumption that ISO 14000 is concerned only with larger, international business ventures, this system states that ISO 14000 “has been written to be applicable to all types and sizes of organizations and to accommodate diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions”. Henceforth, today not only large but small, nonmanufacturing companies are joining hands with ISO 14000 because of immense benefits that come to their way after complying with ISO 14000 standards (Johnson, pp. 3-12, 1997).
2- Registration Process Registration to ISO 14000 environmental standards is a very complex process. Complications arise from a number of twists and turns that are present in the requirements of the procedures to registration. Another important to note is that the requirements for standards and the procedures to meet those standards are most likely to vary from organizations to organizations depending upon the nature of their business. See Figure 1 below. ISO 1401 is another standard that covers all the documentation requirements to get registered to ISO 14000.
Any company operating in the world can opt to get registered to ISO 14000 environmental management systems. The basics of registration start from the initiatives taken by the company itself by creating its own standards for environmental management; the next step for the company is to operate these set standards for a sufficient length of time in order to show that it is effective and this must be done by keeping a document record of these locally initiated steps.
When an organization deems that its set standards are now in conformity to the standards set by ISO 14000, it can move on to seek registration. Here, the first step is to request for an audit that would be done prior to registration and it is done by a registrar that is recognized by ISO 14000. Once the compliance audit is done and the company meets the set standards by the audit, the organization is then added to the list of those organizations that are already registered.
The organization is then allowed the authority to “use the registrar’s mark in prescribed ways” which is also at times named as The Green Passport. The standards set by ISO 14000 can be said to be like the Constitution of the United States in that the statements flow from broad to specifically laid out sub-elements, and other important guidelines and proposals. Overall, the standards anticipates that the environmental management standards set by an organization for its operations will mirror the organization’s nature of operations, its function in relation to its context of environmental aspects.
Thus, as a citizen might consult a law professional to seek for legal guidance, many corporations find to consult an outside consultant to seek for guidance to get registered to ISO 14000. However, it lies with the registrar to provide “third party assessment of conformance to ISO 14001, and internationally recognized certification of that conformance”. These bodies are rigorously inspected by other globally recognized entities for better performance.
The registrar organization uses a team qualified for the audit and then the company audit is conducted in detail; this audit (registration audit) examines all the documentation of the company maintained for EMS; the team also undertakes interviews of the personnel at the site; and examines all the procedures required for the audit examination. This procedure simply tells us that time for audit varies from company to company because of varying size, nature of operations, locations, and other related matters. Although standards evaluation takes place by the audit registrar, it is not the ultimate word in case of a disagreement.
There is an independent body that overlooks the process of audit and registration without directly being involved in the process. This body has a status of being the “court of appeals” if there is a need to settle down some disputes taking place between the client company and the registrar organization; there are a number of matters monitored by this board such as ethical issues, etc. This board can report about any misconduct by the auditor to the agency that has the authority of accrediting a company; however, there are other different procedures that ensure safety for the client (“The ISO 14000 players”, p.
1-2, 2006). 3- Difficulties in Registration It is among the complicated steps from an organization’s self-efforts to maintain the EMS to getting an audit done for the compliance check that several complications arise to getting registered for the company to the ISO 14000. This section now specifically looks at some of the major problems present in the way for a company to get registered to ISO 14000 standards. Reviewing the guidance document (ISO 14004) to ISO 14000 tells us that there are five steps basic to the model offered for conformity to ISO 14000.
There are five steps in this model: (i) policy preparation and commitment to the policy, (ii) proper planning to implement the standards, (iii) application of the planning, (iv) assessing the implemented procedures; and finally (v) reviewing the system for further improvement. These are described in detail in the document. Other issues related to human resource management to implementing financial reserves. The clauses that deal with these issues are from 4. 1 to 4. 5. It is here that the initial phase of problems arises because there are requirements for initial review, gap analysis, and other procedures to be undertaken.
The main focus is that a company must provide as much information about its systems as is essential for implementation of the standards. It is evident that not all the companies find it easy to go over these requirements. For instance, when it comes to information about finances (the first required resource), there is no likely obstruction to it; however, developing and maintaining programs for finance resource is a costly venture for many companies. Moreover, the registration procedure of third-party adds more to the existing costs (Hormozi, p.
32, 1997). Even if a company goes through these five steps with sufficient attention being paid to the set requirements, the next phase, again, brings a basket of complications and difficulties. Hormoze (1997), comments that “It is much more difficult to measure the benefits of implementation than to measure its costs”. Moreover, the ISO 14000 registration standards require that a company is assessed on two criteria: on life-cycle basis and on examination and analysis of cost/benefit area.
For a company these can be highly cumbersome issues and the registration process may take a very long time and immense efforts on the side of the client company; additionally, there is likelihood of disputes, disagreements, and arguments taking place between the client company and the auditing firm. It is something that is hidden, unknown by the two, and a considerably gray area in the registration process. Likewise, the implementation of the environmental standards requires efforts put by a team.
This is another major area that pose complexities for both the company and the team in that the team, fairly large in the beginning of the procedures and high-cost mongering, is to come from outside of an organization. The team should comprise all important personnel from management to financial areas, from legal world to accountancy firms, and from the departments of human resource to managers who are involved in different operations of the company. This team has the sole responsibility of bringing into effect 16 areas of ISO 14000 that are mandatory for registration.
There are certain issues that companies face while going through this step of having a team then communicating to it the required areas and then the time taken by the team to meet the requirements of the company for the standards (Hormozi, p. 32, 1997). What is more? When company plans to get registered for the international environmental standards, it comes into contact with various other companies and organizations that are needed for assistance, help, professional guidance, and other such matters. It is here that another phase of difficulties is lurking.
All the organizations working for a company (at any level whatsoever) need to extent enough cooperation and active involvement in the overall goal of the company that is also equally responsible for all these efforts; however, it is possible that when there are contacts between different firms and organizations, on one side and public voice-bearers and governmental standards on the other, the results maybe severe for the parties: conflicts and arguments may take birth to complicate the entire process even more.
Henceforth, it is suggested that a company must extend a proactive strategy toward all the possible phases and problems and difficulties related to these phases. However, with all these difficulties in hand, it is essential that a company move forward to meet the standards set the ISO 14000 to manage a number of environmental issues so that better operations that are world-friendly can be assured (Hormozi, p. 32, 1997). 4- Other Problems
Criticism is given way on ISO 14000 methods, procedures, and requirements while it is put to a critical cross examination and comparison with ISO 9000 standards for quality. According to Zanden (1997) there is great different between the procedures and requirements demanded by ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 mainly due to the fact that the former is all about setting the standards for quality; whereas, the latter encompasses standards for environmental issues present in operations of a company.
However, what can be said to be surprising is that ISO 14000 deals with the matters of environmental management much like the same way as ISO 9000 deals with quality. And it must be noted that quality and environment management are two completely different areas requiring different procedures for implementation of the set standards. This is one major source of the many difficulties that rise for a company (either large or small) going through the process of registration (p. 1).
According to Lister (1998), although there are a number of areas in which the existing problems have shrunk a great deal, there are still problems that are found from one country to another from basic steps to the senior level of endorsement by the core authority. In this regard, the writer points out that there is lack qualified people who can offer sufficient advice and/or consultancy to a firm looking for registration to the ISO 14000 standards. Hinged on this lack, is the lack of professionally competent auditing personnel.
It is usual to find auditors overwhelmed by the complete documentation standards put by ISO 14001 policies. Even if auditors are well versed in their fields this one area is enough to make them occupied. Similarly, the author notes that there is high level of unpredictability that occurs in the registration process with regard to quality of set standards; this is solely responsible to huge haziness found on the side of an organization planning to register to ISO 14000.
Moving along, there is this monster of steeply higher costs that are well rooted in the registration process. Depending on what kind of auditors a company hires, this high cost can even climb to un-estimated heights. When it comes to understanding regarding the assessment of environmental aspects, it gives birth to confusion and difficulties to a two-fold problem: first, it is not very much clear as to what “constitutes a reasonable attempt at an environmental aspects assessment”; and secondly, regarding “what actually constitutes an environment aspect”.
Then there are legal twists and turns that spread all over the clauses that define different aspects of environmental management requirements. Furthermore, it is not a surprise to find so much miscommunication within an organization due to already extant complications in the procedures, and the resulting effect is that employees in the same organization will give way to certain amount of ignorance to the standards being followed by their company. Integration of the standards remains to be the major and serious problem among all and vary from business to business (Lister, p. 1, 1998).
5- Conclusion With the above review of the difficulties found in the registration process it becomes clear that there is much that is still needed to be done both on the part of the core organization for international standards as well as by governments of different countries. Major areas that need revisions and a reverse glance are the practical problems present in the implementation of the standards of ISO 14000 and building a structure that is feasible for different companies in different parts of the world.
Moreover, it is important to clarify the documentation of the standards offered to the world. It is equally important to work out problems with regard to availability of qualified auditors and their partial stance while they are auditing a company; this is important to avoid lawsuits, and other disputing matters so that all this procedure of registration becomes more and more feasible and management of environmental issues can be better assured. References “The ISO 14000 players” (2006). Who are the ISO 14000 players, and what are their roles?
Advanced Waste Management Systems, Incorporated. Retrieved on March 31, 2009 from: http://www. awm. net/isoplayers. htm Hormozi, A. M. (1997). ISO 14000: The Next Focus in Standardization. SAM Advanced Management Journal. (62) 3. Publication Year: 1997. Page Number: 32+. COPYRIGHT 1997 Society for the Advancement of Management. Johnson, P. L. (1997). ISO 14000: the business manager’s complete guide to environmental management. John Wiley and Sons, pp. 3-12. Lister, N. (1998). ISO 14000: a European view. Quality Solutions Inc.
Retrieved on March 31, 2009 from: http://www. qualitydigest. com/dec98/html/iso14000. html Wall, E. , & at el. (1998). Ontario agriculture and ISO 14000: is the time right? Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Retrieved on March 31, 2009 from: http://www. ofa. on. ca/policyissues/issues/98%20-%20ISO%2014000%20Summary%20Report. pdf Zanden, H. V. D. (1997). ISO 14000 Environmental Management Systems. Finishing. com. Retrieved on March 31, 2009 from: http://www. finishing. com/0800-0999/859. shtml