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Auditing external environmental auditors: investigating how ISO 14001 is interpreted and applied in reality
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8323-881X
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2001 (English)In: Eco-Management and Auditing, ISSN 0968-9427, E-ISSN 1099-0925, Vol. 8, no 4, 183-192 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ISO 14001 standard leaves a lot to be interpreted by its users. As the standard is growing in popularity the external environmental auditors are becoming key players in the environmental arena. Through interpretations, they form the linkage between the standard document and its application in reality.

This study is based on interviews conducted with auditors representing all nine certification bodies in Sweden and at the board that accredits these firms. The paper presents how auditors interpret and apply central requirements of ISO 14001, with the aim to illuminate important issues from an environmental point of view.

It can be concluded that many important requirements are interpreted differently. There are disagreements regarding what criteria are approved when determining which environmental aspects are significant. Further on, the standard's requirement for continual improvement is normally transformed to improvements regarding a few ratios. The paper, amongst other issues, also deals with auditors' competence, their objectivity and their opinions about the efforts of certified organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. Vol. 8, no 4, 183-192 p.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87142DOI: 10.1002/ema.165OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-87142DiVA: diva2:585684
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-06
In thesis
1. Do standardised environmental management systems lead to reduced environmental impacts?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do standardised environmental management systems lead to reduced environmental impacts?
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase the understanding of the relationship between standardised environmental management systems (EMSs) and the environment, focusing on the use of such systems by companies and on systems in accordance with the ISO 14001 and/or EMAS standards. Another purpose is to investigate how standardised EMSs fit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to examine a special EMS solution called the Hackefors model, used by a group of SMEs, to find out how this model has affected the environmental efforts and business of these enterprises.

To gather knowledge on the connection between EMSs and environmental impacts, two main roads have been followed. Firstly, empirical studies (and a few literature reviews) have been conducted, among other things, aiming to clarify how the standards' requirements are interpreted and applied in reality, and uncover what this means in terms of environmental impacts. For the most part, external environmental auditors and environmental managers have been interviewed. An important purpose is to illuminate what an ISO 14001 certificate, or an EMAS registration, guarantees. This means that the minimum level is emphasised to a large extent. Secondly, a literature review has been conducted to collect knowledge on the selected issue from the international research arena. One intention is that this review will contribute information about the average use of EMSs and thus serve as a good complement to the empirical studies.

It has to be concluded that a standardised EMS does not guarantee a good environmental performance and defmitely not reduced environmental impacts. Without any doubt, EMSs can be used to structure and strengthen a company's environmental efforts, and many companies surely have achieved important reductions in terms of environmental impacts by using an EMS. However, the standards' formulations are very indistinct and they can be interpreted and applied in many different ways. It is clearly possible to be certified and registered without improving very much at all. The effects of EMSs are to a very large extent dependent on how companies choose to use them. To capture the potential that EMSs have, issues of credibility should be observed. Therefore, the thesis includes some recommendations in the form of discussion points.

The Hackefors model clearly can be used to overcome many of the common barriers forimplementing an EMS at SMEs. In the studied case, the EMS implementation had led to severalimportant environmental improvements and also to other types of improvements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2003. 112 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 851
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30064 (URN)15524 (Local ID)91-7373-778-X (ISBN)15524 (Archive number)15524 (OAI)
Public defence
2003-12-12, Sal C3, Hus C, Linköping Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2014-10-08
2. How do standardised environmental management systems affect environmental performance and business?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How do standardised environmental management systems affect environmental performance and business?
2001 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to increase the understanding of what a standardised environmental management system (EMS) is, can be, and is not. The EMS infrastructure, i.e. the standards for EMSs and corresponding systems for their application, is analysed to find out how"ft affects the environmental efforts of companies. Furthermore, the topic of how standardised EMSs fit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is discussed. A special EMS solution used by a group of SMEs is examined to clarify how this model has affected the environmental efforts and business of these enterprises.

The thesis is based on three studies. Firstly, external environmental auditors were interviewed. Secondly, the environmental reviews for the group of SMEs were studied. This study also involved a literature review on how to measure environmental performance. Thirdly, the environmental co-ordinators working at the mentioned small enterprises were interviewed.

It can be concluded that it is too early to draw any general conclusions on how standardised EMSs affect environmental performance. How ISO 14001 is interpreted and applied is largely left to companies and external environmental auditors. In practise, 14001's requirement concerning continual improvement is often restricted to a few environmental aspects and does not say anything about the total environmental impact. Furthermore, there is an inconsistency in the standard text and its implementation concerning which criteria are approved when assessing environmental aspects. Some auditors allow the inclusion of criteria regarding economy and quality, etc. To ensure the credibility of ISO 14001, the standard and the systems for its application should be improved.

The EMS model studied seems to be a cost-effective solution for SMEs that removes the most important barriers for EMS implementation and maintenance at small firms. Also, it appears to have led to significant environmental improvements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: LiU/Unitryck, 2001. 54 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 907
Keyword
Environmental management systems, EMS, ISO 14001, small and medium-sized enterprises, SME, continual improvement, environmental aspect, environmental performance
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-101568 (URN)LiU-Tek-Lic-2001 :44 (Local ID)91-7373-124-2 (ISBN)LiU-Tek-Lic-2001 :44 (Archive number)LiU-Tek-Lic-2001 :44 (OAI)
Available from: 2013-11-22 Created: 2013-11-22 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved

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Ammenberg, JonasHjelm, Olof

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