استفاده از شاخص ها و نقش سیستم های مدیریت زیست محیطی برای بهبود عملکرد زیست محیطی: بررسی گواهی ایزو 14001 شرکت در بخش خودرو
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|6050||2012||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 92–102
The relationship between EMS implementation and environmental performances improvement is subject to increasing interest by international researchers but results obtained so far are not univocal. A critical issue is that ISO 14001 does not require companies to reach minimum levels of environmental performances (apart from legal compliance) nor does it supply methods to be used to measure continual improvement. A questionnaire-based survey on a sample of companies in NW Italy was carried out with the aim of investigating which operational performance indicators (according to ISO 14031) are used in their EMS, whether EMS implementation has contributed to an increased commitment towards environmental performance and what the entity of the achieved improvements is. The sample was made up of companies belonging to the same industrial sector (automotive) and with a consolidated EMS (ISO 14001 certified for at least three years). Results highlight that various environmental aspects are monitored in the EMS by means of a rather large number of indicators, but the most detailed ones (relative indicators) mainly refer to aspects where performances improvement means cost reductions (waste management and use of resources). The EMS implementation increases the number of companies committed (mean increase: 108.7%), as well as the number of environmental aspects involved and determines higher investments towards environmental improvement. The quantification of the improvements achieved was only provided by a limited number of companies, but data show that EMS determined positive effects in the environmental performances, although with highly heterogeneous values, varying from +16.9% (use of resources) to +42.7% (releases to water). For future research activities we recommend tailoring the sample of certified companies, limiting its scope to companies with a consolidated EMS and, where possible, to EMAS registered companies, in order to deal with publicly available validated data trends. Finally, in order to improve EMS efficiency, we recommend that companies carry out a specific design phase, in accordance with ISO 14031, aimed at identifying a proper set of indicators to adequately assess and monitor their environmental performances.
One of the key elements of the ISO 14001 international standard is the continual improvement of environmental performances, defined as “a process of enhancing the environmental management system in order to achieve improvements in overall environmental performance consistent with the organization’s environmental policy’’ (ISO, 2004). Continual improvement is the final outcome of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) or Deming cycle, which is the core of Environmental Management Systems (EMS). The relationship between EMS implementation and environmental performance improvement is subject to increasing interest by international researchers but studies have not yet arrived at a clear conclusion; some outline that EMS implementation has led to improvements ( Annandale et al., 2004, Anton et al., 2004, Arimura et al., 2008, Botta and Comoglio, 2007, Hilson and Nayee, 2002 and Potoski and Prakash, 2005), while others show that the environmental performances of some companies have decreased, even without losing their certificate ( Ammenberg et al., 2002, McDonach and Yaneske, 2002 and Rondinelli and Vastag, 2000). The study of these relationships is complex as the continual improvement can be context dependent (Nawrocka and Parker, 2009) and related to several different aspects and issues, such as single environmental impacts, environmental costs reduction, improvement of the compliance to legal requirements, ethical aspects, etc. The outcomes of scientific research are not univocal because studies are often limited to the analysis of the relationship between environmental certification and improvement of single aspects of the overall environmental performance. For example, some studies tend to demonstrate a real link between ISO 14001 certification and specific environmental performance improvement: Radonjic and Tominc (2007) identified a relationship between ISO 14001 and improvement of working staff safety and reduction in emissions and energy consumption in the metal sector. In other studies no correlation, or even negative correlations, have been outlined: Barla (2007) verified that a sample of ISO 14001 certified companies belonging to the pulp and paper industry sector obtained a significantly lower reduction of BOD and TSS emissions than a sample of uncertified companies in the same production sector. Other studies ( Ammenberg et al., 2002, Brouwer and van Koppen, 2008 and Hammond et al., 1995) outlined that ISO 14001 only determines improvements in the initial implementation phase due to the efforts needed to issue the initial environmental review and to meet the baseline of compliance to existing regulations. Positive effects can even be absent once the certificate has been obtained ( Ilomaki and Melanen, 2001 and Moxen and Strachan, 2000). A critical point is that ISO 14001, apart from requiring full compliance to existing regulations, does not fix minimum levels of environmental performances that should be achieved and assessed annually in order to maintain the certification, and does not even provide specific requirements or operational methods to be used to measure continual improvement (Brouwer and van Koppen, 2008 and Zobel, 2008). For this purpose a good reference is ISO 14031, a standard belonging to the ISO 14000 family (ISO, 1999), which gives guidance in the design and use of environmental performance evaluation by means of environmental performance indicators (defined as the “specific expression that provide information about an organization’s environmental performance”), but knowledge and explicit use of this norm in ISO 14001 certified companies is very limited ( Brouwer and van Koppen, 2008 and von Bahr et al., 2003). However, certified companies are explicitly required by ISO 14001 to implement procedures to monitor and measure the key characteristics of their activities that can have a significant environmental impact (the so-called significant environmental aspects) in order to determine how the organization is managing the improvement of its environmental performance (Section A.5.1 of ISO 14001). Therefore environmental indicators must somehow be used in the EMS to support organizations to quantify and report their environmental performances, as they contribute to the compulsory significance evaluation of environmental aspects and supply quantitative information (Perotto et al., 2008). A recent study (Henry and Journeault, 2008) further supports this consideration, indicating that the implementation of indicators that can be related to the ISO 14031 standard is more evident in ISO 14001 certified companies. From this point of view, a detailed analysis of the indicators used by ISO 14001 certified companies can reveal specific information on how environmental performance improvement is monitored in the EMS, i.e. which environmental aspects are kept under surveillance and which indicators are used for this purpose. The operational indicators (OPI) used can then be categorized with reference to ISO 14031, according to the type of quantitative measures for their calculation, in direct indicators (DI; basic data or information; e.g. weight of total waste produced), relative indicators (RI; data or information compared to or in relation to another parameter (production level, time, location or background conditions); e.g. fuel consumption/km driven) and indexed indicators (II; describing data or information converted to units or to a form which relates the information to a chosen standard or baseline; e.g. number of non conformities). The use of relative and indexed indicators instead of direct ones in the EMS can show a deeper insight by certified companies for the evaluation and monitoring of their environmental performance. Finally, if such an analysis is focused on an EMS that has been consolidated over time (i.e. companies with an ISO 14001 certification since several years), some useful information on the entity of the environmental performances achieved during that period can then be gathered, in order to evaluate to what extent the EMS has contributed as a driver for continual improvement. In this framework, the study presented in this paper is a questionnaire-based survey on a sample of companies belonging to the same industrial sector (automotive) and ISO 14001 certified for at least three years, with the aim of investigating (i) which operational performance indicators (classifiable as OPI according to ISO 14031) are used in the EMS to monitor environmental aspects and to assess continual improvement, (ii) whether the EMS implementation has contributed to an increased commitment and (iii) what the entity of the obtained improvements is.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The study was carried out through a questionnaire-based survey on a sample of 45 ISO 14001 certified companies belonging to the automotive sector (first-tier suppliers) in the Turin area (NW Italy). The results provided an overview of the environmental aspects monitored, the operational performance indicators used in the EMS, to which aspects companies have a commitment for improvement and the role of EMS on the commitment itself. The choice of limiting the sample to companies of the same sector and with an EMS certified for at least three years allowed us to deal with consistent data coming from consolidated management systems. This setup also prevented an overestimation of the improvements related to the initial implementation phase and guaranteed a relatively high response rate (66.2%). This approach can therefore be suggested for future research activities, in order to tailor the selection of the sample of certified companies. According to the survey results, a first interesting outcome is that several environmental aspects are monitored in the EMS by means of a large number of indicators. The analysis of the questionnaires provided a comprehensive list of indicators used by the sampled companies which can constitute a reference set for implementation in EMS by other organizations, even belonging to different sectors. Most of the ISO 14001 certified companies (more than 88% of the sample) in the automotive sector monitor the environmental aspects emissions to air, waste management, use of resources and noise. All the indicators used can be classified, according to the ISO 14031, as operational performance indicators (OPI). Within OPI, direct indicators (DI) represent the most commonly used typology (74.4%), often related to parameters used by companies to check compliance with legal requirements (e.g. pollutants concentrations). On the other hand, a rather large variety of relative indicators (RI), not linked to legal compliance, was also reported for two aspects, waste management and use of natural resources. We assume that the closer and more pro-active examination on these two environmental issues can be due to an higher interest on aspects which represent a significant cost for companies, but this hypothesis will have to be further investigated. As a general comment, the limited use of RI seems to reveal that the analysis of environmental performances does not present the same level of detail for all the aspects. Consequently the questions that arise are: how accurate is the definition of appropriate indicators for each environmental aspect and how detailed is the evaluation of those whose improvement is not related to cost reduction or to compliance to legal requirements? This could be considered a specific point for further research in order to discuss the problematic elements of ISO 14001 implementation that have been highlighted also by previous studies. Therefore, a general recommendation to improve EMS efficiency could be to try to integrate in it the approach of ISO 14031, through the introduction in the implementation of the EMS of a specific design phase aimed at identifying adequate environmental performance indicators. This phase has to be integrated in the initial environmental review required by ISO 14001 for new certification processes or during the management review for EMS already in place. From this point of view, an interesting step forward has recently been made by EMAS regulation: in the Annex IV of its new version (European Parliament and Council, 2009) registered organisations are now required to monitor and report to the public a fixed set of core indicators related to their direct environmental aspects and other relevant environmental performance indicators that will be defined by the Commission in specific sectoral reference documents. Through the survey we also tried to evaluate the influence of EMS implementation on increasing the commitment of companies towards environmental performances improvement, separating the investments made as a response to external/internal requests from those related to a voluntary commitment. The obtained results suggest that EMS gives a relevant contribution in increasing the number of companies committed and the number of environmental aspects involved. Therefore, EMS seems to represent a driver to widen the extent of companies commitment towards environmental performances improvement. This outcome will need to be further investigated but can already contribute, through the quantified information provided in this paper, to the ongoing scientific discussion on the usefulness of EMS implementation. With regards to the quantification of the environmental improvements achieved over the last three years, the response to the questionnaire was not completely satisfactory, as the data were only provided by a limited number of companies. However the improvement data provided seems to be consistent since the most significant response (one third of the sample) was related to the four most frequently monitored environmental aspects and about half of the sample (45.5%) presented a clear and direct relationship between resources devoted to improvement and improvement achieved. As a general result EMS determined an improvement in the environmental performances, thus the mean percentages reported were highly heterogeneous, varying from 16.9% (use of resources) to 42.7% (releases to water). The limited percentage of respondents was probably due to the limitations of the methodology used (questionnaire-based survey). The required information have in fact to be based on a specific review and overall assessment of the results obtained over the last three years for each environmental aspect and, very likely, several companies did not have already organized and elaborated available data and consequently decided not to carry out a specific evaluation just to fill in the questionnaire (which was left blank). This problem could be avoided in future studies using the same methodology by limiting the sample to EMAS registered companies. They are in fact required to publish, on a yearly basis, a validated environmental statement containing a summary of the available data on their performance, in terms of environmental objectives and significant environmental impacts. On the other hand, in this way, the identification of a significant sample will be more difficult as EMAS is adopted by a much lower number of companies than ISO 14001.