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This story is about a nice guy called Jack.

Jack always understood his responsibilities towards the

environment. He preferred bicycle over a car for small

distance travel. He would get irritated if he saw

someone print something that was unnecessary.

He was absolute environment-friendly in every sense.

Jack now owns a ship management company and he got

a chance to showcase his services to a prestigious ship


At the end of his presentation about his company, Jack

thought to himself; “Well done boy”.

But jack was awestruck when the ship owners said;

Sorry Jack, but we only work with companies that care

for the environment.

No one care for the environment better than me and my

company sir; replied Jack with confidence.

Jack’s confidence was short lived when the shipowner

asked him “do you have proof”?

Jack has one month to prove that his company cares for

the environment.

Someone suggested him to get ISO 14001

accreditation but he had no idea what it is. After all, he

has just got into the ship management business.

Let us help jack understand how he can prove to the

shipowner that his company cared for the environment.

Let us understand ISO 14001.

International organization for

Standardization (ISO)

As the name suggests, ISO sets the standards for the

companies to adopt.
For example, when you go to a bank to open an account

the first thing you would be worried about is the data

security of the bank.

You do not want your money to disappear overnight.

You ask the bank manager about data security and he

says they have strict data security.

But what’s the proof?

ISO certification regarding the standards of IT

application in banking could be one of the proof.

These would have all the standards required for the

banking sector ranging from the minimum digits for the

ATM card pin, standards for the ATM magnetic chip to

the standards for online transactions.

ISO has set the standards for each and everything we

use and comes across in our daily life.

Standards for coffee, standards for watches, standards

for medicines and standards for bridges.

Like this video says, every day is a standard journey.

ISO 14001

So ISO sets the standards and give guidelines on how to

achieve those standards.

Each standard is given a number.

ISO 14000 family is the set of standards for the

companies looking to manage their environmental


ISO 14001 is one of these tools of the ISO 14000 family

of standards.

ISO 14001 is the standards that set the specifications

for the environmental management system.

But why we focus only on ISO 14001 and not on other

environmental standards of ISO14000?

This is because ISO 14001 is the only one that allows it

to be certified.
All other ISO 14000 standards are self-certification


Out of a number of guidelines in the ISO 14001

standards, there are four that need to be stressed upon

the understanding of ISO 14001.

 Having an environmental management system

 Having an Environmental policy

 Determining the environmental aspects of the

company’s activities

 Determining the Environmental Impacts

Environmental Management System

To be ISO 14001 compliant, all Jack has to do

is develop the company’s Environmental Management

system as per the guidelines provided in ISO 14001.

The EMS to the ISO 14001 is same what SMS manual is

to ISM code.
ISM code provides the guidelines of what is required for

the company and ship to be ISM compliant. SMS manual

is the company (and ship) specific document describing

how these requirements are being met.

For example, ISM code requires the company to

nominate the designated person ashore and also enlists

the duties of the DPA.

SMS manual specifies that.

ISM code requires the company to give specific

instructions to the ship about maintenance of the

equipments. SMS manuals provide these specific

instructions applicable to that ship.

In the same way, EMS is the company-specific

document that specifies how each requirement

mentioned in the ISO 14001 is being met.

For example, ISO 14001:2015, clause 5.1 requires the

top management to demonstrate leadership and

commitment with respect to the environmental

management system.

EMS need to mention specifically how the company’s top

management commit themselves towards the


In Jack’s case, Jack could write about

 Senior management’s meetings that are conducted at a

specified interval

 Management has set targets and KPIs related to

environmental discharges
 Senior management’s regular visits to the vessels to

get the first-hand information on how environmental

compliance can be improved upon.

 Management’s policy that they will only work with

suppliers that have recycling policy for the packaging

material even if it costs the management more in the

shorter run.

The list can go on.

The idea is that if we need to comply with this clause,

then we must have the specific points in the EMS as to

how company complies with this clause.

Another example is the clause 7.2 of the ISO 14001

which is regarding the competence of the people.

If the staff of the company is not competent, there are

higher chances of accidents which could include

accidents related to pollution.

For this ISO 14001 clause, we need to mention in the

EMS as to how the company ensures that the staff is

competent to perform their duties.

Now Jack can mention about

 Company’s recruitment and selection procedures

 Company’s procedures for appraisal system

 Company’s procedure to identify training needs of its


 Company’s procedures to measure the effectiveness of

the training

ISO 14001 is all about environmental management

system. And once all the clauses of ISO 14001 are

covered and taken care of, the EMS of the company is

considered ready.

But I have so far discussed two simple examples of

clauses in ISO 14001.

Let us discuss few other important clauses of ISO 14001

in more detail.

Environmental policy

ISO 14001, clause 5.2 requires company to have

an environmental policy.

In simplest of the words, a policy is a statement of


When we talk about the environmental policy of a

company, it is supposed to provide the information

about the intention of the company with regard to the


ISO 14001 provides the information about what

minimum elements need to be there in the

environmental policy.
So the environment policy of Jack’s shipping company

could cover points such as

The policy is to conserve the environment and achieve

the highest standard of environmental protection by

 Complying with the mandatory rules and regulations as

well as industry recommended guidelines and best


 promoting highest standards for employee involvement

in environment protection
 dealing only with third parties that have embraced the

environmental standards

 Aiming for zero pollution incidents

 Reviewing the environmental performance of the

company periodically

Once Jack’s company has a good drafted environmental

policy covering these points, it would have covered the

ISO 14001 clause 5.2.

Environmental aspects
ISO 14001 Section 6.1.2 requires the company to

determine the environmental aspects of its activities.

Environmental aspect seems to be a complicated

term but don’t worry. I will simplify it for you.

As per ISO 14001, Environmental aspects means

element of an organization’s activities or products or

services that interact or can interact with the


Let us understand this with a simple example. Let us

say that your job requires you to print a document

every month and file it.

Printing the document is your activity.

Let us understand the environmental aspects of this

activity. Which elements of this activity are interacting

with the environment?

You coming to office, sitting on the chair isn’t harming

the environment.

Use of electricity, use of paper and use of toner

cartridge in printing a paper is what is harming the


So for this activity the environmental aspects are

 Use of paper for printing

 Use of Toner cartridge for printing

 Use of electricity for printing

This is an environmental aspect of a single activity

called “printing something”.

ISO 14001 requires the company to determine (and

make a list) of environmental aspects of all their


But why is it important?

When we know what elements of our activities are

causing harm (or doing good) to the environment, we

can work on to reduce its effect on the environment.

So for Jack, let us see few examples of the

environmental aspects of activities performed on the


Let us take Loading of cargo on tankers.

Can you think of the environmental aspects of this

activity? Which elements of loading on tankers are

interacting with the environment?

Here are some of these.

Environmental impact

As per ISO 14001, environmental impact is

change to the environment, whether adverse or

beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from

an organization’s environmental aspects.

Let us come back to the “printing a paper example”.

We identified three environmental aspects of this


What harm (impact) these environmental aspects are

causing to the environment?

 Use of paper: Use of natural resources

 Use of Toner: Land pollution

 Use of electricity: Depletion of natural resources

These are the environmental impacts that the identified

environmental aspects are creating.

Now think of the environmental impacts of the

environmental aspects we identified for loading of

 Venting of HC (Aspect): Air Pollution (Impact)

 Deballasting (Aspect): Water Pollution (Impact)

 Spill during loading (Aspect): Air

pollution/Water pollution (Impact)

Jack need to make all the list of the activities performed

by his company with their environmental aspects and

environmental impacts.

Significant Aspects

ISO 14001 requires companies to

determine those environmental aspects that have or can

have a significant environmental impact.


Because we cannot manage everything. It will do more

good to the environment if we focus on our activities

that are harming the environment most.

We need to identify the significant

environmental aspects of our activities and need to

address these.

We would need to

 have controls to minimise the impact

 set targets and objectives for these environmental


 measure our performance regularly to see if the set

controls are working or not

Let us say that Jack identified the cargo spill to be a

significant aspect of cargo loading operation.

It means that this environmental aspect has the

potential to harm the environment (impact)


Jack needs to address this aspect.

Jack needs to define controls that need to be in place.

Control such as

 testing of cargo pipelines

 Checklists for loading operation

 Training of the crew

 Drills to deal with the cargo spills

Jack also need to set the targets for this aspect. Targets

such as

 Zero incidents of cargo spills of more than 1 bbls

And Jack needs to measure the company’s performance

for the set targets and objectives.

For example, in this case, each quarter, Jack need to

measure the number of cargo spills of more than 1 bbls.

Similarly, Jack needs to set the KPIs for all the

significant environmental aspects and then measure and

monitor the company’s performance against these KPIs.

The significant aspects are identified by the Aspect-

Impact assessment which is based on the principle of

risk assessment.

It takes into account the severity of the Impact and the

frequency of the activity and its environmental aspect.

ISO 14001 Accreditation

ISO only sets the standards. It does not certify a

company for adopting these standards.

But there are independent organizations that audit the

companies against the ISO standards and certify that

the company has set all the standards as per the ISO.

Same goes for the certification of ISO 14001.

In shipping, usually, all classification societies can act as

the Independent Auditorsfor verification of ISO 14001

standards of the company.

DNV-GL is one of these classification societies.

Once Jack has covered all areas of EMS as per ISO

14001, he needs to approach an independent auditing

company to audit and accredit his company for having

the EMS as per the standards of ISO 14001.


Jack now understands how to prove that his company

cares about the environment.

He understands that it is not only the intentions that

matters, we need to have a plan. A plan to improve our

environmental performance over a period of time.

Environmental management system provides that plan

for the companies to list, measure and improve their

environmental performance.

ISO 14001 sets the required standards for an

environmental management system (EMS) for a

Jack has developed the EMS for his company and has

got the ISO 14001 accreditation from an independant

company such as DNV-GL.

He will be having his meeting with the shipowner soon

and is very optimistic about securing this deal.