ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

Environmental Management System

The Port of Los Angeles initiated a pilot Environmental Management System (EMS) in 2003 and obtained International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification in 2007. The Port of Los Angeles was the first major west coast port to obtain third-party, independent certification under ISO. In 2015, the program was recertified under the updated standard, indicating the ongoing commitment of Port management and staff to continuous environmental improvement.

Why Have An EMS?

EMS Logo
The EMS is a management system designed to address and minimize the impacts of an organization’s activities and products and services on the environment. It also ensures an ongoing commitment to regulatory compliance in a thoughtful and proactive manner. 

The overall goal of the EMS is to drive systematic, continuous environmental improvements through the use of a Plan-Do-Check-Act model where current and planned practices are evaluated based on their potential environmental impact. 

How Does It Work?

The Plan-Do-Check-Act model creates continuous improvement through an innovative education and communication program that incorporates all levels of staff into the environmental management process. Major keys to the Port’s EMS include strong management commitment and a clear understanding of risk and impact of activities conducted by Port employees.

PLAN: During the planning stage goals are set. Team members identify potential impacts from activities, legal requirements that need to be met, as well as Port policies and voluntary programs that also have standards to meet. Using this information, objectives and targets are established.

DO: The next stage is implementation. The roles and responsibilities of staff members are identified, operational controls are developed and put in to place to reduce or eliminate potential environmental impacts, the program elements are communicated and staff is properly trained to ensure competence. The entire program is well documented to ensure compliance.

CHECK: This stage checks the progress of the system. Progress is monitored and measured, compliance with regulations is evaluated, and issues and inconsistencies with the system are identified. This is achieved through ongoing staff input and periodic internal and external audits. The EMS must be recertified through third-party audits that occur every three years.

ACT: Continuous improvement is ensured during this stage. Strategies are developed to address concerns identified in the check stage. Management review of the EMS provides accountability, demonstrates leadership in environmental protection, ensures required resources are available, and sets new goals to achieve, thus keeping the system moving forward.
EMS Plan-Do-Check-Act model

Is It Working?

C&M Worker
The EMS has been an overwhelming success. Since implementing the EMS, employees are engaged with the system on a daily basis, creating a sense of ownership and accountability. This engagement in the EMS has resulted in:
  • Reduced disposal of overall hazardous waste
  • Recycling of the majority of paint waste
  • Reduced bilge water shipped off as hazardous waste
  • Implementation of a wood waste recycling program
  • Improvement of emergency response capability
  • Increased assurance of regulatory compliance 
  • A clear process to manage increasing risk and complexities of environmental management
  • Continued development of tools and systems to help track and reduce our carbon footprint 
  • Strengthened inter-division communication
The EMS has also resulted in important and significant cost savings through:
  • Reduction of hazardous waste, resulting in an estimated savings of over $100,000 per year.
  • Eliminating the need for additional Title V air requirements 
  • Salvaging and replacing non-compliant equipment
  • Reducing purchase of air emission credits