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4.3 Determining the scope of the environmental management system in ISO 14001

Creating a scope following the requirements present in ISO 14001 will avoid fines, processes, stoppage of your activities and help to reduce costs and environmental impacts.

 In today’s article we are going to talk about item 4.3 of ISO14001, determining the scope of the environmental management system. As with the Quality Management System, the Environmental Management System also needs to determine its scope.

The scope defines the scope of the organization’s system. Within the scope of the EMS will be included the functions of the organization, its activities, physical limits, products and services and other important information. The scope must be maintained as an organization document, and can be documented in printed or virtual form.

In addition, the scope of the EMS should specify which environmental aspects the organization can control, influence and make changes to. These aspects must be formulated based on the organization’s policy and objectives, taking into account the applicable legal requirements for its activity, size and location.

 

In ISO 14001, item 4.3 Determining the scope of the environmental management system is presented as follows

 In order for the organization to determine its scope within the guidelines of the standard, it must analyze and strictly follow the requirements below.

4.3 Determining the scope of the environmental management system

The organization shall determine the limits and applicability of the environmental management system to establish its scope

When determining this scope, the organization should consider:

  1. a) the external and internal issues referred to in 4.1;
  2. b) the legal and other requirements referred to in 4.2;
  3. c) its organizational units, functions and physical boundaries;
  4. d) its activities, products and services;
  5. e) its authority and ability to exercise control and influence.

Once the scope has been defined, all the organization’s activities, products and services within that scope need to be included in the environmental management system.

The scope must be maintained as documented information and available to interested parties.

Let’s better understand each of the five requirements

In order for the organization to be able to determine its scope, it must consider these requirements.

 

  1. a) the external and internal issues referred to in 4.1;

It is important for the organization to carry out an analysis of its internal and external environment. Based on this analysis, it will be possible to determine the environmental conditions that can affect your processes.

This is because environmental issues are constantly changing, so it is necessary to identify the aspects that are affecting the organization at the current moment. And the ones that might affect you in the future.

 

  1. b) the legal and other requirements referred to in 4.2;

In this requirement, we will identify stakeholders to determine their needs and expectations. For example, if the customer wants to recycle the product packaging that a certain organization supplies, this is one of the needs of that stakeholder.

By providing recyclable packaging to this customer, for example, the organization is meeting the expectations of a stakeholder. In addition to working also important concepts for the environment.

Some of the SGA stakeholders may be the government, as there are government regulations related to the environment. Many of them are mandatory and must be complied with.

People who live around the company’s location may also be a stakeholder. This situation can involve disposal of chemicals, odor, excessive noise among other factors that can affect the neighborhood. Making it, then, an interested party.

 

  1. c) its organizational units, functions and physical boundaries;

Organizations that have more than one unit need to define their roles and physical boundaries individually. The territorial area, the neighboring population, the climatic effects, among other factors, are different according to each place where the companies are installed. Thus, the scope may differ from unit to unit.

For example, a company installed in the Northeast will need to deal with the temperature in a different way than a branch installed in the South of the country. Therefore, the EMS of this company will need to be defined according to the characteristics of the territory where it is present.

 

  1. d) its activities, products and services;

It is common when we talk about the environment to hear phrases like “The impact that this will cause or cause on nature”. This phrase is usually related to companies (whether large, small or medium-sized) that somehow cause risks to nature during their production processes.

The organization needs to work its activities, products and services in such a way that these impacts on nature do not happen. There are several ways to structure a company so that it is sustainable. What, at least, has a production that generates an acceptable level of pollutants.

Let’s understand better by example. Imagine the EMS of an organization where its activities generate polluting smoke through its chimneys. You can use filters as a solution, for example.

 

  1. e) its authority and ability to exercise control and influence.

The organization may have authority and control over some actions and parts of its process. The example we cited in requirement D (chimneys) applies here. It demonstrates the authority that the organization has over deciding to use equipment that reduces the environmental impact. In this case, the decision rests with her alone.

However, the organization can also influence its customers through marketing actions, for example. It can also influence its suppliers, proposing to close contracts only with those who share the same thinking present in its EMS.

Thus, even if the organization cannot control 100% of the product’s life cycle, and its disposal. It can take action to influence a more sustainable world.

 

The EMS cannot be just marketing!

Creating a scope following the requirements of ISO 14001 will avoid fines, processes, stoppage of your activities, cost reduction (based on not wasting raw materials), among other benefits.

In the age of engagement, the word sustainability is increasingly popular, attracting more and more consumers who care about the cause. What I mean by this is that having a positive image before society will bring positive results to the organization, such as increased brand equity, competitive advantages and increased customers.

But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the main objective is to reduce the impacts that the organization generates on the environment.

Many companies promote marketing actions clinging to their EMS, showing how their processes care about the environment. This action is not wrong, as long as it is doing what it shows and truly following its scope.

QMS

QMS Certification Services is a fully accredited third-party International Certification Body. Operating since 1994, QMS is one of the oldest and most experienced certification bodies auditing and certifying thousands of organizations globally. We have built a great reputation for first-class service, market-leading pricing, and a hassle-free process for our clients. International Recognition: QMS Certification Services is accredited by IAS (INTERNATIONAL ACCREDITATION SERVICE) – a member of the IAF (International Accreditation Forum). All Certificates of Approval are issued under the IAS accredited system in the USA. QMS has auditors and clients all over the world, allowing for multi-country certification for clients.

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