An integral part of the company culture: environmental management systems 3 minutes spent reading

An integral part of the company culture: environmental management systems

Michael Leithinger

Of the more than 120 Group companies included in environmental data management, some 60% have an environmental management system in compliance with ISO 14001, around 15% are validated in accordance with EMAS, and more than 20% have an ISO 50001-certified energy management system.

Year after year, independent auditors perform stringent audits and validate what has long been an integral part of the voestalpine company culture: to not only maintain, but to improve the good environmental performance.

The formulation of concrete objectives based on an environmental audit, the specification and implementation of action programs, and regular progress monitoring are the main pillars of the environmental management systems—both according to ISO 14001 (International Organization for Standardization) and EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). “Each year, our environmental performance is closely audited,” states Johann Prammer, Head of Strategic Environmental Management at voestalpine. ISO 14001 is currently being introduced at other locations, including Corpus Christi, Texas.

Detailed audits by external auditors

The certifications are based on data from voestalpine environmental reporting. External auditors from Lloyd’s Register then come into play. They take a close look at the several-day ‘audits’: their assessment of the voestalpine companies goes far beyond verifying adherence with legal provisions. They audit whether company policies related to environmental topics actually result in suitably high performance. “For those of us in environmental management, the regular environmental audits are very beneficial—they are a central tool for determining action areas, discussing them with operations, and implementing them,” maintains Martina Schubert, Environmental Management, Steel Division. “The environmental management system is usually part of the integrated management system to provide a holistic view.”



When a company incorporates an environmental management system, it triggers a continuous improvement process that is set forth year after year.

How ISO 14001 and EMAS differ

ISO 14001 is an international standard, and EMAS is a European system—which is why many more voestalpine locations are certified in accordance with ISO 14001. “It makes sense to certify a location in accordance with EMAS where it is environmentally relevant due to the need to provide more information to local organizations and other interested parties,” explains Johann Prammer. It is not a major step from ISO 14001 to EMAS—basically, EMAS only additionally requires the publication of the annually measured environmental performance data and an environmental statement containing applied environmental measures.


Presentation of “seal of approval”

What ISO 14001 and EMAS have in common is that both are not legally mandated. But as renowned “seals of approval”, more and more customers are requesting these certificates.

"We don’t want to praise our own environmental performance. The annual assessment performed by external auditors as part of the certification process provides objective, independent, fact-based confirmation of where we stand and what we can improve. This assessment carries more weight, especially for interested public and customers."
Johann Prammer

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Michael Leithinger