Ten Point Thinking Series on ISO 14001:2015

Every month John Marsden makes 10 points designed to help auditors think about what they are doing.

Part 1 –  Linking ECO to ISO

  1. On balance, our global generation is trashing the world in so many ways (exploiting resources, loss of genetic diversity). We, the consumer, are ultimately responsible and ISO 14001:2015 recognises this.
  2. Example – it takes 480 gallons of water to produce a single quarter pound hamburger. Much of this water is abstracted from groundwater in mid-west USA. The whole region is now water depleted and over-farmed. Nearly worn out.
  3. How many of the big suppliers of quarter-pounders to the world are willing to look at this issue and tackle it head-on?
  4. As an ISO 14001:2015 auditor, you now have the words to allow these issues to be identified and acted upon. “Context and needs of interested parties” should enable any auditor to ask the big questions.
  5. Also, life cycle perspective is supposed to make an organisation think about raw material acquisition – I see procurement processes as potentially having a fundamental impact on what issues an organisation needs to act upon.
  6. Control and influence – many organisations will wash their hands of tricky upstream issues and concentrate on simplistic easy fixes (recycle the paper towels in the washrooms rather than change or influence beef production in the USA or Brazil).
  7. How many ISO auditors fail to focus on the really important issues? How many find it easier to focus on the simple mechanics of ISO 14001 (e.g. did you complete your internal audit programme or did you miss one of your audits?).
  8. How many auditors have the ability and skill to encourage an ISO 14001 certified business towards sustainable procurement? This will be a gradual approach – mostly observational and coaxing yet insistent.
  9. Encouraging a link between the really big environmental issues of the world and the ISO 14001 management system of a multi-national could be one of the most satisfying things an auditor can do. How many have the ability to do that?
  10. I recently audited one of the largest drinks companies in the world (an integrated HSE audit). They are very receptive to change because their reputation and standing in society is paramount. There’s the opportunity. Go out and use it!