ISO 14001, BMW, and the Automotive Industry

ISO 14001, BMW, and the Automotive Industry

When it comes to the protection of the environment and the industries or organizations that are on the vanguard of implementing safeguards and programs designed to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts, automotive manufacturers are usually not examples that come to mind. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the industry was often maligned for not being overly concerned with what they were building and the effects those processes had on the environment, in more recent years, that has begun to change.
Since the late 1990s, ISO 14001 has been a requirement of many of the largest automotive OEMs in the world, including Ford, Honda, Toyota, BMW, and General Motors. The goal of this mandate was to improve the environmental impact companies within their supply chain had on the world around them.
In the 2000s, a concentrated focus was applied to producing automobiles that were more environmentally friendly. For example, Toyota rolled out the Prius, ushering in the era of the battery-powered alternative. Many of the OEMs above followed suit by releasing their take on electric cars or offering hybrids, and almost all automotive manufacturers began engineering cars that reduced CO2 emissions.
Currently, BMW has taken its commitment to environmental safety to the next level. Today, vehicle production grows more complex, and the number of automobiles on the road is only increasing.  With this in mind, BMW is now mandating that all of the companies within their global supply network incorporate an Environmental Management System and achieve certification to ISO 14001. Part of their official statement on BMW's Supplier Management page explains their thought process:
"We work with around 12,000 suppliers in 70 countries. It is, therefore, essential that our partners fulfill the same environmental and social standards we set for ourselves. The BMW Group Supplier Sustainability Standard, which requires compliance with internationally recognized human rights, as well as labor and social standards, forms the basis for this."

Why was the ISO 14001 standard chosen? ISO 14001 promotes an organizational life cycle approach towards an Environmental Management System, which can result in some of the following benefits:
  • Energy savings
  • Improve efficiencies
  • Cost savings
  • Identification of risks and safeguarding against them
  • Compliance with regulations
  • Reduction in waste
  • Increased public image and trust factor

ISO 14001 is not the only standard that BMW requires members of its supply chain to adhere to; we discussed the topic last year in our article titled, "Occupational Health and Safety Requirements Are Bolstered at BMW." In an updated version of their “Terms and Conditions for the Purchase of Production Materials and Automotive Components”, BMW added the necessity of certification to an Occupational Health and Safety Management (OH&S) System based on ISO 45001 to ensure that the employees of a given supply chain are protected.

In automotive supply chains, specifically component manufacturers, there is continuous pressure to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies to meet Customer Specific Requirements(CSRs) while remaining competitive. By mandating Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, BMW is trying to ensure that corners are not cut in these areas to reach those goals.

BMW, along with some of the other leading automotive OEMs, are continuing to work hard to reinforce the practice of building environmentally supportive and safety-conscious vehicles from the supply chain to the factory and finally to the road. The recent adoption of ISO 14001 certification into its supply chain is just the latest example.

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