Environmental management – a competitive advantage

We have had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Trudslev about a topic that concerns a lot of people – environmental management. In the article below, we discuss, among other things, how a management system can help you achieve your company’s climate goals. This can either be with a certification in ISO 14001, Environmental management, but it can also be in relation to describing, continuously documenting and having an overview of the company’s environmental efforts and results.

A management system is a powerful tool for achieving your climate goals

We are experiencing an ever-increasing attention to the topic of environmental management, where we as companies have the opportunity to optimize our sustainable development. If we work reliably and ambitiously with the subject, it also turns out to be a great competitive advantage – both nationally and internationally.

We have discussed environmental management with Peter Trudslev, business consultant and Lead Auditor, who shares his considerations and good advice on how to best get off the ground in relation to making a positive difference for the environment.

Why is it so important today that companies begin to focus more on environmental management?

Peter: ”It is important to get involved and help promote positive change. It is also important that companies understand that a serious commitment to environmental management is an important competitive parameter today. It can be costly to ignore the topic and pretend it doesn’t exist.

We also experience that many larger companies have started to make demands on their subcontractors’ environmental policy. For example, they do not want to be associated with any suppliers or business partners who may risk getting into the press for handling their environmental policy in a critical manner. To a greater extent, they are beginning to demand that they too be certified in ISO 14001, or that they are at least preparing to become so.

Unfortunately, we see at regular intervals that “greenwashing” can occur – i.e. the fact that some companies, for example, claim that their products are environmentally friendly, but without being able to document this. It is therefore important, when you start working with environmental management, that you do it on a serious and transparent level based on documented content.

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is the most recognized international standard for environmental management systems.

It forms the framework on how an organization can work with its environmental impact in accordance with its environmental policy.

ISO 14001 requires an organization to work proactively towards understanding and thereby reducing environmental impacts in relation to the organization’s activities, products and services.

5 good tips for succeeding with ISO 14001

1. Make a list

Draw up a list of a number of areas where your company can potentially burden the external environment, and from there begin to examine which goals it makes sense to strive for with supplementary concrete action plans.

2. Get an overview

Have a management system implemented that gives you a continuous overview of your processes, and ensure that you continuously evaluate your results.

3. Create transparency

Work seriously and transparently with your environmental management. It is important that your company constantly aim to work towards improvements.

4. Involve the management

Get management involved and make sure they prioritize getting to the finish line. It will always require resources. It is therefore important that the management see it as an important investment.

5. Involve employees

Involve every single employee in the company’s environmental policy and ambitions. Every single employee’s effort is important, and everyone usually has a shared responsibility for the company reaching its goals. The more people who take ownership of the project, the better the results.

How can a management system be a powerful tool for working seriously with environmental management as part of a company's core business?

Peter: ”When you work according to a management system, you get a framework that in the best way forces you to make some important considerations and deal with a number of topics around, in this case, the environment. By working according to a management system, you get some tools to take a stand on some problems that you most likely would not reach on your own.”

In general, when you are certified, you have set some goals within quality, environment, information security, or whatever you are certified for. You have to set some goals, regardless of which certification you work with. In relation to ISO 14001, you get some concrete tools to systematically think through your environmental impact and thereby set some goals on how you want to reduce your environmental impact in the company.”

Whether you are certified in ISO 14001 or not, a management system is an effective framework for working in a targeted and structured way to achieve your environmental goals. The system helps to create an overview and document the company’s initiatives.”

How can a management system help reduce a company's environmental impact?

Peter: ”You can start by generating a list of a number of areas where the company in question can potentially burden the external environment. This list quickly becomes very long, and you will certainly be able to cross out a number of topics, as they are not relevant to the company’s specific conditions. After that, you can take a closer look at all the relevant points and start examining which goals it makes sense to strive for.

For example, if you are a transport company that drives a lot, you can decide how to optimize your daily environmental impact. For example, you can draw up an action plan for how the company switches to electric cars, and you can ask critical questions about how the current vehicles can be operated in a more environmentally friendly way. In this way, you can work your way through a number of environmental impact topics in a systematic way. You gradually work your way down the list, and thereby become more and more concrete with some tangible action plans for how you will reach your goal of reducing your environmental impact.

Is there anything you need to pay particular attention to if you want to be certified according to ISO 14001?

Peter: ”Yes, first of all, you need to have a management system that meets the requirements for ISO 14001. It is important that you ensure that you have the tools ready to prepare the required documentation that is described in the standard.

Secondly, it is important that the management system is fully implemented in the company. This means that if you decide to prepare a green account once a year – for example in relation to electricity and water consumption – it obliges you to document the account year by year. The management system must thereby be used as a documentation framework for compliance with the rules of the game as described in the procedures in the management system.”

Do you have any good advice on how to best achieve an ISO 14001 certification?

Peter: ”Yes, get the management involved and make sure they prioritize achieving the certification. It is essential that they understand and recognize the importance that environmental management is also a competitive parameter that is gradually becoming more relevant for all companies to deal with.

It is essential that management prioritise serious work with the environment, so you do not end up being accused of expressing a lot without any action behind it. Most often, such work will require resources, and i.a. this is also why it is necessary to have the management involved, because it is important that you can invest in the work in order to reach the goal. Therefore, it is pivotal that the management indicates and supports the necessary resources.

In addition, it also requires a large internal communication effort, which many companies unfortunately underestimate. In addition to the fact that it is important that the management wants to achieve the goal, it is also essential to give the individual employees an impression of, and an understanding of, why each individual employee’s efforts are also important. They must understand that they also have a shared responsibility and an importance for the company reaching its goals. The more people who take ownership of the task, the better the results.”

With a management system as D4InfoNet, you can continuously work on describing your environmental goals and collect data from relevant procedures that support the described goals. The management system is a tool that provides the necessary overview, so you always have concrete results to navigate and optimize your action plans according to.

In the management system, you will usually start by describing the company’s environmental goals, and then formulate a series of necessary procedures on how you intend to achieve the goal of reducing your environmental impact.

The big difference when working towards optimizing your environmental management in D4InfoNet is that you get structure on how to achieve your goals.

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