BACKGROUND

About forty years ago the world markets were flooded with cheap poor quality products. “Made in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan” and so forth, were synonymous with these products. The defensive reaction from the industrialised first world countries was to counter this competition with the slogan of “quality product” combined with reliability and value for money. This led to the establishment of the concept of total quality management in the International Standards Organisation (ISO). With this quality stamp on one’s product, one could compete internationally. At the same time, this drive for quality products and total quality management, sanctioned by reputable institutions and approved by governments and international organisations, also aimed to protect the consumer against sub-standard products and services.

International organised business enterprises, with the support of their national governments, took the lead in drafting acceptable and agreed to quality standards and quality management systems. Various countries, including South Africa, promulgated their own quality management standards over the years. This eventually led to the acceptance of the ISO 9000 series of quality standards, which were agreed to internationally. In the South African wine industry, however, only a limited number of wineries opted to implement ISO 9000, mainly as result of product quality that is already determined by the South African Wine and Spiritus Board.

The awakening of the world community to a continuously deteriorating regional, continental and global environment in the sixties led to the concept of environmental quality as being part of total quality management – one cannot lay claim to manufacturing a quality product or providing a quality service while at the same time our environment, which is so necessary for our long-term survival, is being destroyed in the process through unacceptable levels of air and water pollution, ecological degradation, contamination of our soils, over-exploitation of non-renewable resources, the unsustainable utilisation of renewable resources and so forth.

This environmental awareness, in turn, led to a groundswell of support for internationally acceptable and agreed to environmental management performance requirements and systems. Again, individual countries and groups of countries established and promulgated their own environmental management standards, such as the British BS 7750 series and the EMAS system of the European Union. After several years the ISO took over and created the ISO 14000 series of environmental management standards.

Since South African foreign traders are competing in the “global village”, they have to play the game according to internationally acceptable rules. Unfortunately, to a certain extent, the insistence by foreign trading partners on conformance to and compliance with the quality and environmental standards by South African enterprises, has been used as a trade constraint (to protect their own industrial base), despite the fact that some international trade agreements specifically forbid this kind of discrimination in trade relations. Although national states in the first world are quite aware of these discriminatory practices, they quickly claim innocence, because they argue: “We do not interfere with the practices of private companies”. Thus South African companies trading in foreign markets therefore have a choice either to play the international game according to the internationally acceptable rules or to capitulate and concentrate on the internal market. However, one must remember that the intention of the ISO 14000 environmental management system is to assist the company to do their environmental management tasks more efficiently and effectively. Enterprises, however, who see the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) only as a useful marketing tool will soon realise that they have become slaves to the system. By contrast, those with a true concern for the environment will find the system both effective and a useful marketing tool.

Towards the end of this year we will see a further development of the total quality management concept by the promulgation of the internationally accepted ISO 18000 series of safety and health standards which will run parallel with the ISO 14001 system. The international community is therefore slowly but surely moving in the direction of an integrated management system comprising occupational health and safety, environment, risk management and quality: the so-called SHERQ management model. If the South African wine industry is serious about maintaining an international role, it should heed these developments in time in order to be properly prepared and to remain at the cutting edge of developments in the foreign trading field.

KEY ELEMENTS OF AN ISO 14001 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Seventeen EMS elements are included in the ISO 14001 EMS and are based on a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” model to ensure that environmental issues are systematically identified, controlled and monitored. The key elements can be described as follows:

Environmental policy
The winery should develop a policy statement of its commitment to the environment that should be used as a framework for planning and action. Management may decide to include only the cellar under the system, although it is recommended to eventually include vineyard practices to ensure client satisfaction.

Environmental aspects
Winery management must ensure that environmental attributes of all activities in and around the winery and vineyards have been properly identified. Those aspects that could have significant impacts on the environment should be determined and prioritised according to significance. The impacts register should be revised from time to time to reflect changes in the environment as a result of new operations or availability of new scientific information.

Legal and other requirements
The winery must compile and establish a comprehensive list of all environmental, legal, and other provisions, guidelines (such as “Integrated production of wine”) and regulations, relevant to the production of wine. This list must be revised and updated as new legislation, guidelines and other environmental requirements are promulgated and published.

Objectives and targets
Management must establish environmental goals for the company that are in line with the policy, environmental impacts, views of interested parties and other factors.

Environmental management programs
The winery must design, develop and implement appropriate environmental management programs to ensure compliance with its environmental objectives and targets. These programs must be monitored and internally audited from time to time.

Structure and responsibility
The winery must design, develop and implement a manpower management program. Environmental responsibilities, accountability, authority and liability must be assigned to each employee according to his/her capabilities; and responsibility, accountability, authority and liability should be negotiated with each employee and be incorporated in his/her job description/employment contract.

Training, awareness and competence
Staff must be trained to competently assess and comprehend whether their activities constitute a health risk or a risk to the environment.

Communication
The winery must establish processes for internal and external communications on environmental management issues.

EMS documentation
The winery must maintain information on its EMS and related documents.

Document control
The winery must ensure effective management of procedures and other system documents.

Operational control
The winery must identify, plan and manage its operations and activities in line with the policy and objectives and targets.

Emergency preparedness and response
The winery must ensure that appropriate emergency preparedness programs, plans and schedules are in place and that response procedures are adequate to prevent the spreading of environmental accidents and incidents. Follow-up plans must prevent the recurrence of environmental emergencies. All staff members should be adequately trained and suitable equipment should be provided and applied to ensure effective environmental emergency preparedness.

Monitoring and measurement
The winery must ensure that appropriate monitoring and measurement programs, plans, schedules and methods are in place to ensure continued compliance with environmental legal provisions, environmental standards and guidelines imposed on the wine industry. Monitoring and measurement data must be used to test environmental management performance from time to time.

Nonconformance and corrective and preventive action
Whenever deviations from the environmental standard occur, appropriate corrective and preventive actions must be instituted to ensure compliance. All corrective and preventive actions must be documented to monitor progress and to ensure successful completion.

Records
The winery must ensure that all environmental management records are easily identifiable, properly stored and maintained and that back-up copies are secured in the event of destructive events.

EMS audit
The winery must design, develop and implement an appropriate internal environmental audit system to verify continued conformance with the EMS and satisfactory environmental performance.

Management review
The winery must review the appropriateness of the ISO 14001 EMS from time to time to ensure continual improvement in environmental management performance.

BENEFITS OF IMPLEMENTING AN ISO 14001 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

General

The ISO 14001 EMS forms part of total quality management of a business organisation in that it deals with environmental quality management. The system is also flexible enough to allow for a wide range of different ways in which it can be utilised to accommodate issues and aspects not directly related to the environment. For example, job descriptions of, or employment contracts with, employees do not only have to contain environmental responsibilities, accountabilities, authority and liability, but should also be compiled to include other responsibilities in winery operations as required by law.

Benefits

The implementation of an ISO 14001 EMS could have the following benefits:

  • For the non-corporate organisation the EMS can be harnessed to provide a very useful, more general, management system containing much more than just straightforward environmental information.
  • The EMS provides a framework within which all environmental management information can be made available at the press of a button.
  • The EMS can form part of a company’s marketing strategy and tools.
  • The implementation of an EMS enables the company to compete on an international basis.
  • The EMS prepares the company and enables it to gain the necessary experience for the time when the implementation of an ISO 14001 will become a compliance requirement from government.
  • The EMS enables the company to tackle environmental issues and management in a systematic and organised fashion.
  • If the EMS is implemented correctly, it serves as an early warning system to alert the company to potential non-compliance aspects and issues.
  • The EMS information enables the company management to obtain an overall view of environmental performance at a glance.
  • The EMS integrates different sets of information and data into a comprehensible holistic picture of the company’s environment.
  • The EMS provides for co-ordinated inputs and outputs from related management activities.
  • Harmonised decision-making is promoted through the integration of information and data from related activities covered by the EMS.]
  • The different core elements and sub-elements of the EMS work somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle -it enables each contributor of information and data to obtain management and operational role clarity and to appreciate his contribution to the successful functioning of the company’s activities.
  • In view of the fact that monitoring and auditing constitute an integral part of the EMS, company management will always be assured of sufficient performance or alerted to the lack thereof.
  • If properly implemented, the EMS is a management tool that works for the company the company does not work for the system.
  • With South African business having become part of the “global village” we have to compete on an international level. The EMS enables us to confront such competition in the environmental performance field head-on and to demonstrate our competitiveness based on international standards and practices.

The Authors:

Lourens van Schoor: Environmental Manager, ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Private Bag X5026, 7599, Stellenbosch, e-mail: lourens@nietvoor.agric.za

Dries Visser Director: Training & Development, Bohlweki Environmental, PO Box 11784, Vorna Valley, 1686, Midrand

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