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6.2 Environmental objectives and plans to them achieve them
6.2.1 Establishing envionmental objectives
An effectively implemented environmental management system aligns the policies with strategic and management system objectives and provides the framework upon which to translate these objectives into functional targets at the uppermost levels of the organization and which flow down through the EMS to influence functional and personal objectives and targets.
Establish and maintain documented EMS objectives and targets, at each relevant function and level within the organization. The objectives and targets establish an important link between the policies and the management programmes. The objectives and targets must be consistent with the EMS policies, including the commitment to prevention of pollution and continual improvement. Depending on the size, management structure, and other factors pertaining to your organization, the objectives may be established and reviewed by various personnel and with direct top management input.
Auditors will expect to review a set of interrelated objectives, ensuring that they are mutually consistent and that they are aligned with the strategic direction of your organization. Documented information of objectives typically is in the form of a description or matrix of the objective and corresponding means and timeframe to achieve the objectives.
Your organization will need to set their environmental, quality and health & safety objectives for relevant functions, levels and processes within its EMS. It is for your organization to decide which functions, levels and processes are relevant. A key addition in the 2015 revision of ISO 14001 (and ISO 45001) is the use of indicators to monitor the achievement of objectives. Indicators are defined as a measurable representation of the status of operations, management or conditions. Each objective will need one or more associated indicators.
Objectives can apply to an entire organization, can be site-specific, or can be specific to individual activities. The appropriate level(s) of management personnel should define the objectives and targets. In some cases, personnel who set objectives may not be the same as those who set targets. Remember that the objectives are the overall goals as reflected in the principles established in the policy.
The scope and number of the objectives and targets must be realistic and achievable. Otherwise, the success and continued commitment from top management and employees will diminish. Consider the factors below, as you begin to formulate your objectives:
- Compliance obligations;
- Significant aspects (aspects directly related to significant impacts);
- Significant hazards (hazards directly related to risks);
- Financial, operational, and business requirements;
- Views of interested parties.
Targets must be quantified where practicable and the units that are used to quantify the targets are referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs). A KPI is defined as an expression that is used to provide information about management system performance. The following are some examples of KPIs:
- The quantity of raw material or energy used;
- The amount waste produced;
- The number of incidents/accidents;
- The percentage of waste recycled;
- Investment in environmental protection.
Carefully consider the type of KPI you choose to use. Suppose your organization establishes a target to reduce its non-hazardous waste by 40 % and the KPI you choose is the total tonnage of waste produced each year (tons/year). If your organization triples its production of units and reduces the amount of waste by 50 % percent per product unit, the KPI, tons per year, does not show the reduction.
In this case, the better KPI would have been the weight amount of waste per product unit (Kg per unit). In many cases, measuring against the production units proves to be more accurate. The following is an example of an objective with a specific of a target and an environmental performance indicator:
- Objective: reduce energy required in manufacturing processes;
- Target: achieve 15 % reduction of energy usage by 2018;
- Indicator: quantity of electricity per production unit (kilowatt/unit).
Organizations are required to establish and maintain one or more management improvement programmes for achieving their objectives. The management improvement programme is a key element to the success of the EMS. Properly designed and implemented, management programmes should achieve the objectives and, consequently, improve your organization’s performance. The management programme must:
- Address each objective and target;
- Designate the personnel responsible for achieving targets at each relevant function/level of the organization;
- Provide an action plan describing how each target will be achieved;
- Establish a time-frame or a schedule for achieving each target;
- The management programme is an action plan or a series of action plans to achieve an objective.
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