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Environmental Management Services - Overview

SABS is a leading business services provider to organizations worldwide, offering a range of services for management system certification, product testing and certification, and standardization. As South Africa re-enters the global market, pressures are being brought to bear on industry to conform to internationally accepted business standards, including those dealing with environmental issues. Businesses are expected to manage the effect that their activities have on the total environment, and this means more than just green consciousness. To ensure that companies and industries in South Africa are environmentally conscious, the SABS IS0 14000 Environmental Standard has been designed in association with ISO.

Legislation

While compliance with SABS IS0 14001 is voluntary in South Africa, legislation has been promulgated to transfer the burden of proof regarding sound environmental management, to organizations. Apart from this, one of the fundamental rights entrenched in section 24 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 200 of 1993) guarantees environmental rights for the people of South Africa. This section determines that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and to have the environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generations, through reasonable legislation and other measures that:

  • prevent pollution and environmental degradation
  • promote conservation of natural resources
  • secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources
  • while promoting justifiable economic and social development

Advantages

As larger companies experience the benefits of being registered, they soon demand that their suppliers follow suit in order to be able to demonstrate responsible environmental management to prospective companies.

If a company understands the environmental legislation and regulations that apply to it, and verification of such legislation can be demonstrated by its registration, it then follows that fewer potential liabilities will have to be faced.

Insurance companies recognize that a business with a demonstrative EMS (Environmental Management System) is a better risk than a company without one. For example, such a company would have a lower risk of leaking fuel tanks and a lesser chance that costly and damaging chemical spills would occur.

An emerging tendency is for development banks such as The World Bank, to require companies to have an EMS (Environmental Management System) in place before loans are approved. Such companies take extra trouble over their operations, and consequently are considered a better long-term financial risk. In addition, in the eyes of the public, and its own workforce, a registered company has to police itself to comply continuously with environmental legislation. This inevitably results in an improved image both locally and abroad.

Registration assists industries to make the optimum use of their water and other raw materials. Even small businesses are recognizing that many of their major clients are working towards the implementation of EMS. It will therefore not be long before supply contracts will be awarded only to firms registered to SABS IS0 14001.

Growing environmental awareness and the increasing awareness of quality implies the need for standardized requirements and test methods.