Environmental Design and EMS

I had an interesting discussion the other day regarding what is an applicable environmental legal requirement.  What exactly is applicable to an organization?  We have to start by looking at the scope of the environmental management system.  The scope is a set of boundaries and those can be applied to determine the jurisdiction in which the organization resides. For example, a company located in the City of Toronto will identify federal legislation, as well as provincial, and in Toronto there are even bylaws that are related to the environment.

The question arises, what if the scope of the activities in a facility includes research and development and customer requirements include meeting the destination legislation of the customer, which are environmentally related. Do these new legal requirements have to be considered as part of the environmental management system?  For example: RoHS or WEE-EEE, both electronics recycling regulations in the EU.

Anything that has to do with the product with respect to its final delivery has to be considered a quality requirement and therefore part of the quality management system.  An environmental management system based on ISO 14001 is developed to control and minimize the environmental impacts of an organization’s activities, products and services within a defined scope.  The environmental management system based on ISO 14001 is not meant to certify that a product or service is environmentally friendly or is meeting any product specification.

Customer requirements that are applicable to the site do need to be considered as part of the environmental management system.  For example, some customers do not want certain chemicals to be used in the production of a product.  This can be considered an Other Requirement.

It’s definitely an interesting discussion.  What do you think?  Are there other examples out there that are not as cut and dry?