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ISO Certification: The challenges and opportunities of Gaining the international standard

Nancy Gray - UK Environment & Regulatory Manager, EMR

Jack Arksey


Over the past year, EMR has received ISO certification for its sites that represent 88 percent of tonnage purchased in the UK and Europe.

This achievement recognises our commitment to industry best practice in three key areas of compliance management systems: quality (ISO 9001), environmental management (ISO 14001) and occupational health and safety (ISO 45001).

By the end of this year a further 20 of EMR’s metal processing yards will also have achieved this goal, with the aim that all our UK sites achieve the standard by 2023.

As a business, we felt that the investment in time and training was essential.

From an internal point of view, having a management system in place – whether for quality, safety or environment – provides a structure to our operations and, as a result, improves efficiency, reduces risk and therefore lowers our costs.

Yet, it is also an important achievement because of the message it sends out to our customers and partners about the high standards that EMR strives for every day.

From blue chip companies to public sector institutions, an increasing number of EMR’s customers look for ISO certification as a requirement when tendering their projects.

In particular, it gives them confidence that we are managing the potential environmental impacts of our process, and the material we process, in a structured way.

The ISO quality management system puts our customers right at the centre, ensuring their needs are met every time. It creates a feedback loop to ensure they are satisfied, and puts in place measures to effectively correct any issues.

Of course, achieving excellence in customer service has long been at the heart of EMR’s mission, but the ISO certification helps us codify this and guarantee that we always meet our own high standards.

The same is true with our ISO certification for health and safety. Protecting our staff and the communities in which we operate has always been EMR’s highest priority and we have worked with governing bodies, such as the Environment Agency, for many years to help to improve standards throughout the industry.

Achieving ISO certification offers an extra level of diligence in providing a systematic approach to ensuring compliance with policies and procedures, as well as customer and legal requirements. It helps us to continually improve our processes and systems.

EMR has the advantage of partnering with its environmental consultancy arm, Mayer Environmental, to develop systems which fit the requirements of a modern, innovative recycling business.

This began with a gap analysis of our operations and systems, identifying areas where we could improve our processes, or update our procedures. It led to the creation of, amongst other things, new templates which are better tailored to the work we do.

Certification of our sites has then been confirmed after a rigorous audit by a UKAS-accredited third-party auditor.

EMR is a huge business with more than 3,000 employees around the world. This means that implementing processes and providing awareness training across some of our busiest sites can be a lengthy process.

Yet one thing is for sure, certification has provided our sites with a root and branch opportunity to seek out areas where we can do better and capture the excellent work our teams do each and every day.