Several South African wine cellars have already indicated the desire to develop and implement the international environmental management system (ISO 14001) for marketing purposes, as well as to remain competitive on foreign markets. So far New Zealand is the only country able to certify wine cellars and vineyards according to this Standard and eight cellars (and vineyards) have been certified, which has set a new standard in the export markets. According to managers of these wine cellars, this is the only way to ensure that they play a sustainable role in the export markets and this standard is expected to become a minimum requirement in these markets within the next few years. However, there are several obstacles that may influence and/or delay the development and implementation of this formal system. The major obstacles are:

  • A limited number of competent consultants/system developers
  • Shortage of multi-disciplinary expertise in developers
  • Cellars’ limited knowledge of the development and implementation of the system
  • Financial exploitation of cellars
  • Compliance with environmental legislation as a minimum requirement
  • Time-frame to implement the system

A shortage of professionally trained system developers has direct financial implications for cellars, especially since competition between developers (consultants) is then minimal and cellars are exploited because their knowledge regarding the development and implementation of such a system is limited. Consultants may also present themselves as professional system developers, without having received formal training. Since ISO 14001 consists of various administrative, technical and environmental legislative elements, it is not always possible to appoint a consultant who is au fait with all aspects of the system. Often, without the cellar knowing, sub-consultants are used who not only increase the cost of development and implementation, but may also have various negative long term implications for the cellar. The biggest of these is that sub-consultants may not always be available when problems are being experienced or when the system has to be improved. The cellar should try to appoint a consultant who makes minimal use of sub-consultants. By so doing the process is accelerated, the costs reduced and a long term relationship with a specific person cultivated.

One of the minimum requirements of ISO 14001 is the fulfilment of national environmental legislative requirements. It has been found, in the mining industry in particular, that this is undoubtedly the biggest impediment to the implementation of an ISO 14001 system and may obstruct implementation and certification. Until the presentation of the course on “Integrated production of wine” most cellar managers and/or winemakers were unaware of all the relevant environmental laws. To overcome this hurdle, the cellar first has to distinguish between development and implementation of ISO 14001. A competent consultant should develop a system within a few months, while the implementation depends largely on the cellar personnel and other resources. Compliance with environmental legislation plays a large role and the consultant/developer can only play a supporting role in this regard. Cellar personnel must be fully committed to comply with all environmental legislation and to follow the procedures and programmes as required. It is especially important for cellars to realise that they will only be certified if the system is already functioning. Proof must also be given that all the criteria of the standard are being met. This may entail large financial implications if all the elements are not in place when the cellar is audited by professional ISO 14001 auditors.

To prevent possible disappointment, cellars have to concentrate particularly on the following aspects before appointing a consultant to develop and implement an ISO 14001 environmental management system:

  • Ensure that cellar management are fully committed to the development and implementation of the system and also involve possible shareholders and personnel in the decision.
  • Ensure that resources are available for the development and implementation of the system.
  • Ensure that a competent, trained consultant is appointed. Insist on a training certificate which is specific to ISO 14001 system development. Select a consultant who is an expert in as many disciplines as possible of the system. This may include the following: environmental legislation, integrated production of wine, environmental management systems, soil and water quality and ISO 14001 auditing.
  • Determine in advance whether the costing for development and implementation is realistic. It should not be necessary to pay hundreds of thousands of Rands for development and implementation.
  • Decide in advance which personnel will be responsible for running the system (a consultant can only play a supporting role).

To remain competitive in foreign markets, cellars should attempt to implement an ISO 14001 environmental management system as soon as possible. However, to develop and implement this system efficiently and cost-effectively, cellars should first pay attention to possible obstacles.

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