Exploring the benefits of implementing ISO14001 in Electricity Transmission Utilities : an Eskom study
The global growing concerns about the condition of the environment and the growing pressure from government and the society at large for companies to control the impact that their activities have on the environment, has led to the development of various environmental governance and management strategies and tools. Amongst the voluntary tools is the ISO 14001 standard to which the Transmission division of Eskom Holdings Limited has certified its EMS to, and the aim of this research was to explore the benefits that are being realised. The study followed a quantitative approach, and a literature study was conducted to explore the relationship between EMS and environmental performance and to understand the intent to which ISO 14001:2015 update will enhance this relationship. To determine the extent to which ISO 14001 influenced the utility’s compliance to legislation, environmental performance data prior to and post ISO 14001 certification for the utility was sourced and trended. The literature reviewed shows that there is a positive correlation between ISO 14001 and environmental performance, and that the magnitude of the change depends on how the standard is assimilated. A weakness was also identified with the previous editions of the standard in that the focus was more on the EMS itself rather than environmental performance, and the focus on new 2015 edition has been shifted to be more on the outcome of the system. The legal compliance contraventions of the utility studied show that although there was a period of deteriorating performance after the certification, the performance in the recent years resembles that of the pre-certification single measurement. Therefore the implementation of ISO 14001 in Eskom Transmission did not result in improved environmental performance as far as legal compliance is concerned for the period studied and based on the literature reviewed, it is however anticipated that other benefits might have been realised which did not form part of this study, and the reasons for not achieving improvement in legal compliance need to be investigated.