ISO Environmental Certification in California


Mar 31, 2024
environmental certification

The different stages described in the ISO 14001 certification for environmental management are as follows:

  • the company adopts an environmental policy based on two principles: compliance with regulatory requirements in the environmental field and the commitment to continuous improvement of results. This policy is communicated to staff and accessible to the public;
  • carrying out an environmental analysis: the company establishes a complete assessment of the environmental impacts linked to the activities carried out on the site. The environmental analysis covers in particular the water, energy, air, waste sector, etc. ;
  • the development of an environmental program: in consistency with the policy and the results of the environmental analysis, the program developed by the company specifies:
    • quantified objectives;
    • the measures taken or envisaged to achieve them;
    • implementation deadlines;
    • the establishment of an environmental management system: the environmental management system covers all site activities. It determines the organizational structure, responsibilities, practices and means necessary for the implementation of the environmental program;

Carrying out an environmental audit

The environmental audit makes it possible to evaluate the functioning of the organization and the effectiveness of the environmental management system in California. It is carried out either by company auditors or by people or organizations acting on behalf of the company. It includes drafting the environmental declaration, the environmental declaration is intended for the public. It provides information on the main environmental issues and outcomes of the site.

The environmental audit includes an approved environmental verifier who examines all of the previous steps and ensures the relevance and reality of the actions carried out on the site. It then validates the environmental declaration.

ISO, a federation of standardization organizations, has decided not to undertake work on the subject of security. Within the ISO, Califonira is one of the opponents of a safety standard judging that this matter falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of labor law.

Certification of products or services

The company sends a request accompanied by a technical file to the certification body holding the certification reference system. The latter has checks carried out on products or services and visits the company. Once the instruction is completed, it grants or refuses certification. In return for the award of certification, the company must respect all the conditions appearing in the standard, in particular those relating to subsequent controls.

Certification of management systems

Certification is a voluntary process which is based on two elements:

  • the organization’s commitment to applying the provisions of the selected quality, environment or safety standards
  • certification by a certifying body of management compliance with the chosen standard

Certification covers a given scope. We can certify what we want, which is sometimes an advantage and sometimes a disadvantage, especially in the environmental field where we address cross-cutting subjects. For example, it is very difficult to demarcate a workshop in the middle of an industrial site by saying “I am going to certify this workshop”.

The certifying bodies carry out an audit prior to issuing the requested certificate. The audit report notifies the deviations noted compared to the benchmark. The organization then responds to this report by indicating the corrective actions it will put in place to remedy this. The certification committee then decides whether or not to issue the certificate to the organization. A certificate is issued for a period of three years and then called into question beyond this period. Follow-up audits take place every year. An organization sees its certificate withdrawn when it does not follow the decided actions and cannot justify the fact of not having followed them. This accreditation aims to guarantee their impartiality and skills.

The advantages and limits of certification

In California a certification demonstrates and displays the commitment of a company or organization to safety, quality and/or the environment. It can help to strengthen the confidence of its partners: employees, customers, associations, administrations, etc. It also makes it possible to encourage employees to adhere to the safety, quality and/or environment approach of the structure because there is the key is external recognition. In addition, once certification is obtained, the objective is to maintain it, which encourages employees to maintain their efforts over the long term.

It is important to note that it is not because a structure has a certified safety, quality or environmental management system that its services or products are of superior quality, that it does not pollute the environment or that she has no accidents at work. The certification of a waste management system judges the system in place but not the level achieved and the objectives set.

Furthermore, in terms of the environment for example, a company may very well be ISO 14001 certified but not comply with the regulations. The main thing is that it knows its points of non-compliance and that it does everything possible to reduce them. The certification of an organization’s management system (safety, quality and/or environment) therefore does not mean that this organization is perfect in the certified fields, but attests to its ability to implement in place actions for continuous progress in the area concerned.

We must be aware that certification cannot be an end in itself because once certification has been obtained, the hardest part is in fact keeping the system alive. In a way, everything begins once the waste management system is certified: an action program is then put in place to achieve predefined objectives. Seeking certification at all costs without taking the time to acquire a safety, quality and/or environmental culture is the best way to obtain a cumbersome system, poorly accepted by employees and impossible to implement in the long term.

Finally, it should be noted that the recognition provided by certification has a cost which is added to that of any safety, quality, environment approach (costs of mobilizing staff on the project and costs linked to possible external advice): cost of the pre-audit, the certification audit and then the follow-up audits. It is necessary to compare this additional cost to the benefit likely to be derived from certification, such as better recycling methods.