14001 reasons to install an EMS

Environmental responsibility is becoming a benchmark for successful business, including the prevention of legal liabilities, so installing an environmental management system can significantly help companies in the legal arena. Here are three examples of companies who have been through the motions.

Adaptaflex, a manufacturer of flexible conduit systems, has become one of the first within its industry sector to achieve the ISO 14001 standard. Based in Colehill, the company gained the accreditation in only 12 months by establishing an effective management system for all environmental issues right across the spectrum of energy usage, storage of hazardous substances, waste reduction and management, water usage, waste water and finite resources.

"We took a close look at all parts of the business with a view to their impact on the environment," says Reg Pearce, health, safety and environmental advisor at Adaptaflex, "We reviewed all our procedures and will continue to do so to achieve better improvements and energy efficiency."

To gain the standard, every stage of the production and day to day processes in the company is evaluated, right from the original design consideration through to the raw material usage, manufacture and disposal of surplus material and by-products. Waste created within the working environment, such as paper, cardboard, disposable cups and printer cartridges, can be recycled. With water usage, Adaptaflex had to follow through a complete audit of generation and disposal involving the Environment Agency and local water company. Following this consultation, Adaptaflex now has established procedures which involved briefing for employees as well as specific training for individuals.

Like many manufacturers, product waste is one of the biggest considerations and the task was to investigate and develop ways to reduce waste and look at the potential of recycling it.

"For example, on the production of a non-metallic conduit, we collected all the data on production set-up, scrap and waste trails," says Pearce, "and held regular meetings with production and quality control to identify and develop improvements to reduce scrap."

The most challenging areas were the different waste streams involving complex reprocessing procedures but identifying different actions to reduce the waste has already made significant contributions. The establishment of detailed Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are a subsequent part of ISO 14001 and Adaptalex is well under way with establishing these too. The EPDs take a close and detailed look at major products and their effects on the environment through their life cycle from raw materials to the manufacturing process to end user including transportation, operational life and subsequent disposal. "Investment in this environmental standard is already paying off for Adaptaflex," says Pearce, "For many businesses it will become an increasingly important requirement , not least because of the supply chain demands as well as partnerships and sharing of information between manufacturers involved in joint projects."



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