IS014001 certification bodies complain of unfair competition
ISO14001 CERTIFICATION BODIES in the UK are complaining at being undercut by competitors who are not recognised by the official UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) or any affiliated body. Some have called for such firms to be outlawed. But non-UKAS accredited bodies argue that they offer a legitimate service which they claim is better geared to client needs. One even boasts energy regulator Of gem among its clients.
In January, ENDS covered a court case involving household appliance recycling and refurbishing firm Global Environmental Recycling of Birkenhead (ENDS Report 360, p 54). Despite holding an ISOl4001 certificate, the company had stockpiled several thousand fridges six-feet high on a site which had no waste licence and had thereby escaped regulatory oversight. The company was fined ¬£13,000.
The Association of British Certification Bodies and individual certification bodies complained that our article should have made it clear that the certificate had not been awarded by a UKAS accredited firm.
Certification firms accredited by UKAS are expected to operate under internationally agreed standards specifying competencies of assessors, the quality of their assessments and integrity measures such as the separation of consultancy services from assessment for certification.
This is not to say that companies holding 15014001 certificates from UKAS-accredited firms have an unblemished record. Successful prosecutions against such companies have been brought on several occasions. Recent examples include Ford (ENDS Report 361, p 59), paper manufacturer Inveresk (ENDS Report 348, p 47) and Ibstock Brick (ENDS Report 347, p 64).
In the case of Global Environmental Recycling, however, the certificate was awarded by Worcester-based firm Certified Quality Systems (CQS) -which claims to have been accredited by the International Accreditation Board. The IAB has no affiliation to UKAS.
CQS's website indicates that it operates on a "no certificate, no fee" basis that aims to keep the process of certification simpIe, quick -within six to eight weeks -and realistically priced.1 Fees are geared to the turnover of the client. Ironically, from the point of view of Global Environmental Recycling, it says the "ISOl4001 system will protect the company, its directors and employees from prosecution."
The IAB gives little information on its website about its guidance on the operation of certification bodies, and does not list the companies that it has accredited. When asked for these details, an IAB representative said that the person authorised to deal with such enquiries was travelling and that it was unclear when he would be able to respond.
There are several other non-UKAS accredited firms offering services in the UK. One such firm, Quality Management Systems International, carries an article in its newsletter to say that it has awarded an 1S014001 certificate to energy regulator Ofgem. Ofgem confirmed in April that this was the case.
Like CQS, QMS also offers a time- and cost-saving approach to 1S014001 certification. This is said to "effectively eliminate the need for you to employ a consultant" by combining the tasks of preparing the required documentation and undertaking an assessment at the same time.