With every passing year, it’s becoming increasingly important to lower our environmental impact. This is something we are taking continuous action on, recently achieving ISO 14001 certification and aiming to become carbon neutral by the year 2030.
At CMS, we have made a commitment to continually improve the way in which we monitor our environmental performance, comply with environmental legislation, and ultimately reduce our carbon emissions. Our newly developed environmental management system now forms the foundation for ensuring we fulfil this commitment.
What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for environmental management systems (EMS). It provides a framework for organizations to design, implement, and continually improve their environmental performance.
Published by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), the most recent version of the standard was published in 2015 and is thus referred to as ISO 14001:2015.
An EMS is formed of the policies, procedures, plans and records that govern how your company interacts with the environment. Since every business is unique, your EMS has to be tailored to your company. But the framework remains the same; the ISO 14001 requirements provide a useful structure for ensuring all the key elements are included in your EMS.
The benefits of ISO 14001 certification
Implementing an EMS offers numerous benefits to organisations, not least the recognition that comes with being a business that cares about reducing its carbon footprint. By assuring customers that you are committed to managing and lowering your environmental impact, you can build credibility and a positive public image. This, in turn, can help to improve relationships with customers and the public and open up greater business opportunities.
Equally notable are the potential cost savings implementing an EMS can offer through conserving energy and natural resources, as well as engaging your team in environmental matters and fostering a culture of continuous improvement within your organisation.
Over time, you’ll also build a valuable set of emissions data that can be used to make evidence-based decisions on areas that can be improved within your organisation.
Our journey to ISO 14001 certification
In 2023 we worked hard to develop and implement an EMS based on the ISO 14001 requirements that would ensure we are operating in as sustainable a way as possible. This involved various elements such as identifying the relevant legal requirements, environmental aspects and impacts, developing an environmental policy, setting environmental objectives, and defining how we plan to achieve them.
We also undertook an environmental analysis across all areas of the organisation, identifying areas for improvement and actions we could take. This prompted a number of changes, big and small, from going paperless in every way possible and purchasing items usually in plastic from our local refill shop, to segregating the waste we produce and providing staff training on ISO 14001.
Another key aspect was, of course, quantifying our environmental impact. We collected emissions data extending back to the financial year of 2021-22 and calculated our carbon footprint using government conversion factors, providing us with a base line of data against which we can measure our environmental performance going forward.
Just prior to implementing our EMS, we had also leased two electric vehicles, which turned out to help significantly reduce our carbon emissions from travel. Though a controversial topic with its own pros and cons, on the whole we believe this was a good decision, supported by the decrease in emissions we have seen so far as a result of using electric vehicles.
Finally, we developed some additional necessary procedures and integrated these with our existing quality management system, combining them to create an integrated management system that covered the requirements of both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Once our EMS was in place, we operated it for several months, during which time we audited the system internally, conducted a management review, and identified areas for corrective action.
Then came the certification process, for which we engaged NQA to audit and approve our EMS as meeting the requirements of the standard. This process involved two separate full-day audits: Stage 1 and Stage 2.
The Stage 1 audit was a primary documentation review which showed us which requirements of the standard we have successfully met and which areas needed improvement in order to become certified. Our Stage 2 audit took place a month later, allowing us time to make those improvements before our EMS was reviewed again and certification awarded.
Reporting on our progress
Our recent Sustainability Report is the first of a new annual report on our progress towards our environmental objectives. It sets out the carbon emissions we produced in our first two years of collecting this data, along with how we plan to move forward.
In our first year of taking action to reduce our carbon emissions, we have already made significant progress. From a carbon footprint of approximately 23.65 tonnes in our base year, our latest financial year saw this drop to 21.87 tonnes, indicating an initial 7.6% decrease.
Having successfully achieved ISO 14001 certification, we are proud of the progress we have made thus far and are looking ahead with optimism and commitment to do our part. Through collective effort, we are committed to doing all we can to become carbon neutral by 2030.
If you would like to find out more or work with us, please get in touch. We would be delighted to hear from you.