The Circular Journey of OSI’s Environmental Management Systems
January 9, 2020
At OSI, we have created and follow stringent environmental standards that are based on local laws, our experience and the partnerships we have established throughout the supply chain. To ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the environment, we also adhere to third party standards that are widely respected and followed in our industry. By following third party and internal environmental standards, we can make sure that we continually improve our ability to deliver best-in-class products, while reducing our impact on the environment in communities around the world.
The European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a “premium management instrument developed by the European Commission for companies and other organizations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance.” OSI began participating in EMAS in 2001 and now has seven facilities in Europe that are EMAS certified. Three of them were even nominated for EMAS Awards in 2019: Babolna, Hungary; Enns, Austria; and Ostróda, Poland.
The 2019 EMAS Awards took place on November 25th in Bilbao, Spain, where the European Commission rewarded “the achievements of EMAS registered organizations that implemented EMAS as a driver of change towards sustainable transition through a long-term holistic vision for a positive impact on sustainable development as a whole.” Although the three OSI locations were not recognized with any awards for 2019, all of OSI’s European facilities will continue to pursue excellent environmental performance to support environmental protection as a key priority in their long-term vision for sustainability.
BECOMING EMAS CERTIFIED IS NO EASY TASK
EMAS is widely considered to be the most stringent and demanding standard for environmental management systems in the world. EMAS certified companies commit to continually improve their environmental performance and to comply with all relevant environmental legislation. Environmental performance is documented and published periodically and is validated by an independent environmental assessor.
EMAS also includes all of the environmental criteria from the internationally recognized environmental standard ISO 14001. This standard outlines a strict approach for introducing an environmental management system (EMS) that includes a process for understanding the context and identifying repeatable steps that help organizations reach their goals and objectives.
ISO 14001 was created in 1996 and later revised in 2015 to include a number of additions, namely the provision that upper management needs to be involved in an organization’s EMS. This meant that environmental efforts within an organization could no longer exist on the periphery of its operations, but rather as an integral part of the business.
The newest version of ISO 14001 demands that the highest levels of management within any organization demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to its EMS by taking accountability for its effectiveness.
EMPLOYING INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR INCREASED EFFECTIVENESS
An integrated management system has been introduced within each of OSI’s EMAS certified facilities, consolidating disparate systems to create a more functional framework throughout OSI’s operations.
By utilizing this management system, OSI has been able to better organize requirements from different areas, using a standardized structure and a combination of methods and tools to ensure compliance. Environmental protection is treated with equal importance alongside product quality, work safety, social responsibility and profitability. Taking a management systems approach is not a theory but a tool that helps add value to operational procedures, such as purchasing, system installation, maintenance and resource use by taking account of all criteria and establishing a benchmark of excellence. For added accountability, this process is also externally verified and certified.
EMAS PROGRAM IMPROVES AND SUPPORTS OSI EUROPE
To demonstrate compliance with our social and legal obligations, many OSI facilities in Europe decided to implement the EMAS program. Using this framework, they mapped the environmental factors of the company and monitored what environmental impact was being caused by their activities on a continual basis.
As a result, OSI's EMAS facilities have succeeded in improving their environmental performance through the measures they have taken, the optimization of processes and technological innovations. These changes have helped enhance the environmental prestige of the company, which not only contributes to demonstrating continued progress toward environmental goals and the expectations of the company's internal and external stakeholders, but also provides economic advantages in the long run.
To succeed, though, it is important to understand how much progress is being made and the next areas for improvement. Our most important tool to measure improvements of our environmental impact is the performance of environmental indicators. With these indicators we can set reduction targets for each year. Indicators are tracked for electricity and gas consumption, fresh water consumption, total waste, recycled waste, hazardous waste and CO2 emissions.
OSI EUROPE’S ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
While participating in the EMAS program is integral to our operations, we are also guided by our own environmental policy to ensure that our operations are directly in line with our values as an organization.
OSI Europe manufactures fresh and frozen food products from the processing of beef, pork, chicken and vegetable raw materials. These operations are carried out using sustainable management systems with the goal of continually improving our performance in protecting the environment. To help fulfill these goals, OSI Europe has an environmental policy that consists of several environmental management aims.
We comply with all applicable legislative, regulatory and non-regulatory requirements; this includes ISO 14001 and EMAS. We also regularly assess effects on the environment through the use of our environmental risk management systems. This process has highlighted opportunities to minimize the risk of environmental pollution from our operations. By utilizing the latest technology, we can also reduce our environmental impact by improving energy efficiency at our facilities.
We ensure that our environmental policy is understood, shared and practiced by everyone at the company. That is why we provide targeted training and important information for our employees and visitors. Our leadership has also committed to ensuring they will provide appropriate information and allocate resources to meet these strategic goals. We do this so our employees can partner with our customers and suppliers to complete operations in line with our environmental commitments.
And we make sure we never get complacent by regularly reviewing the performance of our environmental management system to improve our environmental and energy performance.
THE HARD WORK CONTINUES AFTER BEING NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 EMAS AWARDS
We understand that environmental management is an instrumental part of our business within our own facilities and those of our supply chain. It is our mission to lead the reduction of our environmental impact throughout our business and supply chain, which is why we are constantly striving to implement improvements within all of our plants and to identify projects that will enable us to reduce our environmental impact.
Participating in programs such as EMAS ensures that we are not only working towards our own environmental goals, but that we are also benchmarking against industry standards, especially when they are stringent and specific. Having three facilities in Europe being nominated for the 2019 EMAS Awards is a tremendous achievement. But it is an achievement that will have to find its place on the continuous circle of measurement and improvement.
And now that the facilities in Poland, Austria and Hungary have been recognized as leaders in environmental management, we must challenge ourselves to keep it up in these facilities, as well as strive to be award-worthy in our other locations as well.