The Process of Managing Outsourced Suppliers in accordance with ISO 14001:2105
Following the release of the ISO 14001:2015 standard, organizations had to incorporate multiple changes and activities into their EMS (Environmental Management System) and enable to meet the terms of the ISO 14001:2015 standard. One of the changes that might not seem so obvious is the process by which one’s organization manages outsourced services and suppliers, ensuring that they are aligned with the standard’s terms. By mentioning “outsourced suppliers,” the standard denotes third parties who are contracted to perform critical parts of one’s process and service normally, but not always outside one’s own facility. What does one need to understand and what actions does one need to take in order to ensure that one’s EMS remains compliant?
Important Changes in ISO 14001:2015
The ISO 14001:2015 standard states that the organization shall “determine its environmental requirement(s) for the operational planning and control regarding products and services as appropriate.” While this statement does not seem drastically different compared to the 14001:2004 standard, Annex A provides more information. One is told how an organization should decide on the amount of control needed over its external suppliers based on factors such as the ability to meet compliance, technical aptitude, the significance and the consequences of the product or service for the organization, and the average capability of the organization’s purchasing process of delivery.
Additionally, Annex A explains that the amount of control exerted by the organization over the delivery of a service or product is variable. However, one thing is certain: one’s organization must assume all final responsibilities for the environmental performances of any outsourced suppliers in the delivery of one’s product or service.
How would one achieve this?
Laying down the foundations
Regarding the ISO 14001:2015 standard, there are several criteria that should be checked:
- How likely are one’s suppliers to deliver one’s key environmental performance indicators?
- If one’s supplier is not ISO 14001:2015 certified, do they have an environmental policy? If not, do they follow the terms of one’s organization’s environmental policy?
- Does one’s supplier have an internal audit policy and results readily available?
- Does one’s supplier completely comprehend legislation that pertains to one’s product and its delivery?
- Does one’s supplier have evidence of factoring in risks and identifying environmental aspects to mitigate environmental impacts?
Now, how can an organization guarantee that its supplier has the capability to manage environmental performance in accordance with the ISO 14001:2015 guidelines? Consider:
- Insisting on routinely creating key performance indicators for the outsourced supplier.
- Ensuring one’s supplier places great emphasis on environmental criteria whenever they make purchases.
- Seeing evidence of actions such as assessing risks and identifying environmental impacts that will produce improvement.
- Asking for a record of the supplier’s legislation and proof that they comply with environmental laws that pertain to their work
- Seeking proof that any environmental accidents or hazards as a result of the supplier will be documented and reported to the organization according to an emergency preparedness procedure and confirm the existence of a procedure whenever authorities, containment, and corrections are involved. It is advised that the supplier is guided as to how this process should operate, given that the organization itself is responsible any outcomes.
- Ensuring that one’s organization agrees to a program for the supplier’s regular inspections, where the environmental performance of the supplier is judged. If necessary, the supplier may take action.
An Organization’s Key Responsibilities
When managing one’s outsourced suppliers, it is important to remember that one’s organization has the ultimate responsibility for environmental performance and all internal and external environmental impacts caused by the manufacturing of one’s product or service. As a result of the more descriptive Annex A, the more control one’s organization asserts over its supplier, the better one’s general environmental performance. Taking the steps mentioned above will help one ensure that the suppliers’ environmental performance is managed effectively and the terms of ISO 14001:2015 are consistently surpassed.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.