By Leticia Acosta
Long before “clean tech” entered the lexicon, Xerox committed itself to sustainability in our products and processes.
- We introduced the first recycled grade of paper for copiers some 50 years ago.
- We are a charter partner of the ENERGY STAR program for office equipment.
- We’re a leader in remanufacturing and the circular economy.
If you want a specific time frame, you could start with 1997, the year our major manufacturing operations around the world were third-party certified to ISO 14001. (And they still are.)
This is how I begin what can be a geeky conversation about the ISO 14001 standard, and how Xerox achieved certification for our environmental management systems. (For the purposes of this blog, I’ll limit the geek-speak.)
What ISO 14001 does for clean technology
The International Standardization Organization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental organization that develops and publishes international standards, including those for environmental management systems which are covered by 14001. If you are a technology company, you want to be a clean technology company.
This voluntary, internationally agreed upon standard sets out the requirements for an environmental management system.ISO14001 helps organizations:
- Demonstrate a commitment to improving the environment.
- Improve the identification and management of environmental risks.
- Demonstrate compliance with individual countries environmental regulations.
- Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs.
- Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization’s business systems.
- Increase leadership involvement and employee engagement.
- May provide an advantage over competitors when participating in Requests for Proposals (RFP) or bids and tenders.
Environmental protection at Xerox
Xerox Sustainable Roots: An infographic that shows how Xerox embraces its social and environmental responsibilities.
You and Xerox: Enabling a Circular Economy: Xerox has been a leader in the circular economy for over 30 years
Environmentally preferable practices at our reverse logistics facilities allows us to leave a gentler impact upon our planet, contribute to healthier communities, and deliver better results to our financial performance.
More articles from Xerox Connect: Learn how Xerox and Xerox people help protect our environment.
The basic principles of IS0 14001 are based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, which helps a company achieve continual improvement:
- Plan: Establish environmental objectives and the processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with their environmental policy.
- Do: Implement the processes as planned.
- Check: Monitor and measure processes against the environmental policy, including commitments, environmental objectives and operating criteria, and report the results.
- Act: Take actions to continually improve.
Certification is optional
Third-party certification – where an independent certification body audits a company’s practices against the requirements of the standard – is not a requirement. However, a third-party certification demonstrates and validates the standard has been implemented properly. Many of the benefits can be achieved from using the standard without going through the accredited certification process.
At Xerox, our major manufacturing operations have been third-party certified to ISO 14001 since 1997. Our major worldwide technology equipment distribution centers achieved certification in 2010. Each site has its own certificate, and its own process for achieving certification. Program oversight at Xerox is managed at the corporate level, which ensures all worldwide activities align with our environmental sustainability goals.
In September of 2015, ISO launched the ISO 14001:2015 standard, with new criteria and requirements. All certified sites under the prior version of the standard had a period of three years to transition to the new standard.
Seven steps to clean tech success
In all, 10 Xerox locations worldwide successfully transitioned to the new ISO 14001:2015 certification. Our Webster, New York, site is our most complex, because it includes seven different manufacturing plants under one multi-site certificate. The transition process in Webster was more complex than the other sites.
Here’s how we did it:
A kick-off meeting: All the major players came together to discuss key changes in the new standard. We established the cadence of team meetings that would allow us to transition to the new standard in the allocated timeframe. Our team decided on monthly meetings.
Performed a gap analysis: This helped us determine the actions needed to move from current state to the desired, future state. From here, we prioritized needs, allocated resources, and evaluated the activities and documents that we needed.
Made it hands-on: We used our meetings to delve into the priority areas identified through the gap analysis (Risk Assessment and Life Cycle considerations). We developed and updated templates, forms, procedures and manuals necessary to close the gaps.
Pre-audit: This provided an opportunity to ask the auditor questions, clarify our interpretation of new sections, and test our understanding of the different clauses in the standard. It also allowed us to highlight areas that required special attention during the transition and registration
Scheduled the audit: The culmination of 18 months of effort, the audit took four days to complete.
Gathered lessons learned: ISO updates their standards periodically, so lessons learned – both good and bad – were discussed and documented. They’ll help us prepare better for the next time, and we shared them with our other sites. A couple examples:
- New and updated documents and procedures served as a foundation for other ISO management systems certifications such as ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System) and the new ISO 45001 (Occupational health and safety management system) certification.
- Our risk assessment process improved and we learned how to effectively identify, document, prioritize and manage risks and opportunities linked to the environmental management system.
Celebrate: After the audit was complete, we held a team lunch to celebrate the journey and the accomplishment.
It might be impossible for any company’s operations to have zero impact on our earth. Metaphorically speaking, however, it is possible to walk upon the earth with a lighter footprint. ISO standards point the way.