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ISO 14000 Gaining Acceptance in the US

The Navigator talked with Todd Heller, an ISO 14000 instructor and EMS auditor with AQSR International, about ISO 14000 gaining acceptance in the U.S.:

Navigator: Which companies in the U.S. are adopting ISO 14000?

Todd Heller: Prior to June of 1999, only 4000 companies in the entire US were ISO 14000 certified. Since then, there have been 750 registrations. This sudden growth can be attributed to the rising number of companies in the automotive industry who are getting ISO 14000 certified. Ford, GM, Volvo, Jaguar, and Daimler-Benz have all required their suppliers to become certified by 2001 or 2002. Because of these requirements, the automotive industry will most likely see the biggest growth in ISO 14000 registrations this year.

Navigator: What are some of the key implementation points of which companies need to be aware?

Todd Heller: One of the most important points a company should remember is to identify all their environmental aspects and impacts. Also key to implementation is the company's commitment to regulatory compliance. Companies must make a commitment to prevention of pollution, and continual improvement. Once applicable policies, aspects, and impacts are defined, the organization must focus on training and communication to promote the standard.

Navigator: What are companies struggling with in their implementation of ISO 14000?

Todd Heller: A major challenge for companies is their EMS documentation - how and where it fits into the ISO/QS-9000 structure. Companies can structure their systems using the traditional QS-9000-like Level I to Level IV approach, the 'bare bones' minimum requirements of the standard. Or their system can resemble a QS-9000 Level I for the EMS requirements with links to their QS-9000 procedures - or anywhere in between. This second approach is the most common and can be done quite effectively if the organization knows how to complement those QS-9000 procedures. Also, it's far easier for companies to implement an EMS when they have a Quality Management System (QMS). Mostly, both systems complement and even rely on each other because of their differences.

Navigator: Are you seeing any significant trends you are seeing today in ISO 14000 registrations?

Todd Heller: As I mentioned earlier, the significant trends we in AQSR are seeing among ISO registrations involve the acceptance of ISO 14000 by automotive OEM and OEM supplier companies. To a lesser degree, we are also seeing a trend among waste disposal companies that service the automotive industry. All are seeking registration because of automotive mandates. In 1998, the automotive industry made up 6% of the ISO 14001 registrations. That number may grow to over 50 percent this year. A recent survey in Informed Update revealed that over 55 percent of 1,600 surveyed QS-9000 registered companies are implementing ISO 14001. Additionally, a large number of AQSR EMS registrations have come from our QS-9000 client base. We have gone from 15 registrations to over 50 in less than a year. We project that by the end of the year, we will have over 100 registrations.

Navigator: What kind of training are you doing?

Todd Heller: In addition to Lead Auditor training, the most popular training is Documentation and Implementation. In addition to helping an organization identify and rate its environmental aspects, this training demonstrates how companies can fit their QMS to EMS. Todd Heller is the Manager of AQSR International's ISO 14000 program. He is a lead auditor of ISO 14000 EMS and a RABQSA certified auditor of ISO 9000 QMS, and conducts five types of training courses for Omnex and AQSR (see insert for ISO 14000 training dates). Or, for more information, contact Todd Heller at theller@aqsr.com.


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