24 February 2011
Environmental Management System
In January 2010, we achieved ISO14001 certification for our Environmental Management System (EMS) at our Head Office in Hook. It’s the first step in a journey that could see the whole of the Virgin Media estate accredited to a global standard of environmental management. So we put a couple of questions to Kathryn to find out more...
What is an EMS and what does it mean for Virgin Media?
It’s pretty much what it says on the tin! An Environmental Management System involves taking a systematic approach to minimising our impact on the environment. For Virgin Media, this means putting procedures in place to ensure ongoing compliance with legislation and making sure we are continuously improving when it comes to reducing our environmental impact.
What’s special about ISO14001?
ISO14001 is a worldwide recognised Environment Management System. It’s the best choice for a number of reasons. It’s externally audited, which makes it a credible and trustworthy standard to have. While the process is clear and has simple documentation, it is evidence-based and driven by data, which means it’s easier to make the right decisions.
Why did Virgin Media want to get this accreditation?
First, we recognise the need to check and monitor our activities and those of our partners and contractors, to be sure that we all meet our legal responsibilities and maintain compliance with regulations. It’s also important that we’re able to react to new legislation and manage risks effectively, basically by concentrating on the areas of greatest impact rather than the hot topic of the moment. Accreditation to ISO14001 can be a key requirement in big tenders so we also felt this was important in supporting our business team too.
Hook is our Head Office and our biggest site, with around 2,000 employees based here, so it was the obvious place to choose.
What does the process involve?
The first stage is to conduct an Initial Environmental Review. This is in two parts, a Legal Review to identify and understand the various legal requirements of our activities and an Aspects and Impact Review to understand the impacts our operations have on the environment. All Aspects are then scored to prioritise certain key issues, like Recycling and Energy Efficiency compliance. Anything classed as “Significant” means we have to implement initiatives to maintain compliance or to actively minimise our impacts.
What was the hardest thing about the process?
I would say getting all the paperwork collated and just generally ensuring we had everything in place, to then sit down with the auditors. Not particularly hard, just a bit time intensive. But we’re all pleased to have achieved this certification – it’s a great step in the right direction.
How does it affect your day-to-day job?
I’m the Hook site EMS Coordinator so to start with, this means I am your first port of call if you wanted any more information on the EMS or have any questions or ideas, so do feel free to contact me using the firstname.lastname@example.org address! And now that we have accreditation, my job is about monitoring these key aspects we identified and whether the projects or initiatives imposed to resolve and reduce those issues are working. The EMS is a constant process where we consistently need to review and assess how things are going so that we are maintaining and importantly, improving the way we manage our environment. It can also affect everyone else’s day-to-day job too, so it’s important for all our staff to have the EMS in the back of their minds while working at Hook, or elsewhere. This ensures we get the most of out the EMS and we’re doing all we can.