Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting the Word Out: Environmental Public Policy

For years, one of the requirements for ISO 14001 was to make the Environmental Policy “available to the public”. The most common way to accomplish this was to place it on the company’s website. With ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, the current requirement is to make the policy:

  • “available to interested parties” (ISO 14001:2015 Clause 5.2)
  • “available to relevant interested parties, as appropriate” (ISO 9001:2015 Clause 5.2.2)

Identifying “Interested”
So, the question is: Outside of the website, how do you make the policy available?  Before you start jumping through hoops, let’s find out what hoops need to be jumped through. First of all, both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 define “interested parties” in a slightly different manner. ISO 14001 defines interested parties as “those who can affect, be affected by or perceive they are affected by a decision or activity”. ISO 9001 (actually ISO 9000, since ISO 9001 directs you to ISO 9000) refers to interested parties as “…those that provide a significant risk to organizational sustainability if their needs and expectations are not met”.

In both cases, not everyone is an interested party – but defining who they are is Step One. Which people/organizations provide significant risk to the organization? Who perceives themselves to be affected by the organization? NOTE: Interested parties can be found both internally and externally to the organization.

Get The Word Out
Once the interested parties are identified, you then need to decide how to make the Environmental or Quality Policy available to them. Depending on the parties, you might need one or multiple methods of outreach. Some possible ways are:

  • Post the policy on your website. It needs to be in a location that is fairly conspicuous, such as off the main landing page. Bear in mind that placing it here will allow it to be available to a much broader audience than just your interested parties. 
  • Post the policy in the lobby of your business. This is only an option if interested parties have access to the lobby. If you use a gatehouse to keep the public out of the building, you could post it at the gatehouse. Just make sure it is readable on the public side for accessibility.
  • Make it a menu item in your phone system. 
  • Post it on a bulletin or banner affixed to your building. It must be readable from the road, or from a sidewalk, or wherever the public has easy access to it.

All of the above will undoubtedly result in more than just your interested parties having access to your Quality or Environmental Policy. Restricting access to just your interested parties will take a lot more thought and complexity. Whatever method you choose is up to you, but it must be effective enough to ensure the appropriate people have access to it.

To learn more about ISO 14001, ISO 9001, or other quality standards, contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org.


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

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