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Environment industries archive


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Schiavello Commercial Interiors
Environmental Management System - Products Designed to meet Environmental Criteria

Schiavello principles

This floor-to-ceiling poster is the first thing that greets visitors to the offices of Schiavello Commercial Interiors.

Schiavello believes that products designed to meet environmental criteria have a clear competitive advantage. Potential customers, particularly in Europe and North America, have shown interest in buying products from companies with good environmental performance. The company aims to be the leader in its industry in applying the principles of environmental management to its operations.

The privately-owned company, which employs about 1,000 people, manufactures office systems, including furniture, dividers, and related products. It is located in Tullamarine, near the Melbourne Airport.

Overview of the Process Used to Develop the EMS

Rationale: The company’s formal commitment to environmental sustainability grew out of its work on an environmental design project called Hotdesk. The project involved use of environmentally sensitive design and materials on a modular workstation. After unveiling the Hotdesk concept product at the 1996 Designer Saturday exhibition in Melbourne, the company became convinced that environmental sensitivity was not only a benefit to society, it also made good business sense.

Initial Steps: Schiavello adopted an environmental policy, which commits the company to:

It appointed an Environmental Systems Coordinator in 1997 to assist in the development of the EMS and to oversee implementation of the Environmental Policy. Michael Pitcher, the Coordinator, has recently taken on an expanded role that includes occupational health and safety (OH&S) as well as environmental management.

After Schiavello adopted its Environmental Policy, it went through a multi-step process in the development of an EMS. Michael Pitcher prepared a rough draft of the system, using the requirements of ISO 14001. Natural Step principles provided a basis for the approach used in the EMS. A decision was made to focus the initial work on the core business unit of the company (about 300 people). The rough draft was discussed with senior management, a schedule was developed, and the draft was circulated to relevant staff.

Providing Background Training: General awareness training was provided for all workers. A Green Team was assembled, made up of one person from each of 13 Divisions. Members of the Green Team were trained in procedures required to identify environmental impacts of their division’s operations. Each of these training sessions lasted about an hour.

Developing the EMS: The Green Team identified priority environmental areas within their Divisions. These were discussed with management, and actions to reduce impacts were identified. Working with the Environmental Coordinator, the Green Teams prepared action plans to reduce impacts and developed procedure manuals for the environmental management systems to be used.

Use of Green Team members, who work within the various divisions, helped to build ownership of the EMS. Development of the EMS built on earlier systems and procedures that form part of the Quality Management System.

Implementing the EMS

Targets: The EMS identifies a number of key areas for action. These were identified through a comprehensive impact identification and assessment process carried out by the Green Team members. These include:

Precise quantitative targets cannot be set because the level of output cannot be predicted. The goal is to reduce impacts in the areas shown above, and to increase the positive activities (re-use, recycling etc).

An Action Plan is used for every priority area of impact.

Supplier Involvement: Schiavello is encouraging good environmental performance by its suppliers. Each supplier or contractor who wants to be listed on Schiavello’s preferred supplier list must complete a questionnaire that includes a series of questions on environmental management. At this time, the responses to the environmental questions are for information only, but they clearly indicate that Schiavello is interested in their suppliers’ actions. The questions cover use of resources, emissions, energy, waste, generation of greenhouse gases, and closed-loop handling of materials.

Monitoring: Compliance with procedures is monitored twice a year, on a rolling basis around the departments. Results of these audits are summarised and provided for management review. The reporting is by exception, using checklists addressing all the EMS elements and the Action Plans. Non-compliance gives rise to a Corrective Action. In practice, about three to five corrective actions arise in each Division per audit, mainly of the ‘improve’ or ‘remedy oversights’ type.

Documentation: Schiavello maintains an Environmental Manual as required for compliance with ISO 14001, which contains all the procedures and responsibilities that make up the Environmental Management System. The environmental program is also reproduced in the back of the company’s OH&S manual.

In addition to the formal documents for the EMS, quarterly bulletins are sent to all staff by the Environmental Coordinator. These describe progress with the EMS and contain helpful hints on improving environmental performance. Posters located around the building and in the showroom summarise the environmental points raised in the awareness training.

Compliance Audits: Regular audits are carried out every six months by the Green Team. These take between half a day and a full day, depending on the area audited. External audits for maintenance of certification occur once a year.

Results of the audit are reviewed by the manager of the audited Division and the environmental staff. The quarterly staff bulletins provide summaries of audit results.

Management Review: Once a year, Schiavello carries out a review of the overall operation of the EMS and the Environment Program, including a trend analysis on the results of the internal audits.

Volumes of waste decreased by 2,100 cubic metres from 1997-98 to 1998-99. The waste volume in 1998-99 was 500 cubic metres less than in 1996-97.

Return and re-use of packaging resulted in at least 3,500 boxes returned, with at least a nett value, after drivers’ costs, of about $3,000. These figures underestimate actual returns and savings because not all delivery dockets were returned, so some were not counted.

ISO 14001 Compliance Certificate

Impediments to Implementation: There were only minor impediments to the development of the EMS. In a few cases, employees were not interested or enthusiastic about the process, but they have generally become more involved in the process over time. Some potential environmental improvements are still hindered by lack of availability or the high cost of appropriate technology or materials.


Schiavello (Victoria) the core of the Group, representing about one-third of the Victorian operations, received certification for its EMS under ISO 14001 in December 1998. Another four Divisions (about another third of Victorian operations) was certified in December 1999. The remaining six Divisions in Victoria will be audited for certification in August 2000.

Resources Required

The process of developing the EMS took about 18 months from inception to certification. The overall cost was approximately $200,000. Certification audits added about $20,000 to $30,000 over the first two years.

Benefits of the EMS

Schiavello believes that its environmental standing has been enhanced by its environmental actions, including the EMS. Itnow enjoys the reputation that it is ‘greener’ than its competitors. This is an attraction for certain buyers, including government agencies. Some purchasers seek out Schiavello because of its environmental credentials. Although financial benefits are somewhat difficult to quantify, because they are affected by changes in production, Michael Pitcher estimates that reduced waste disposal is saving the company about $15,000 - $16,000 per year. Reuse of packaging is saving an additional $2,000 to $3,000 a year. More efficient energy use has also produced savings, but these are not quantified. Savings have also been made by reducing paper use through use of email.

Measurable environmental benefits include:

Future Plans

Schiavello developed its first EMS for its core business unit. It expects to complete EMSs for all Victorian sites by August 2000. EMSs for all remaining sites in Australia will be prepared next year.

Contact Information

Mr. Michael Pitcher
Environmental Systems Coordinator
Schiavello Commercial Interiors
Tullamarine Park Road
telephone: (03) 9339 8202
fax: (03) 9330 3220
Web site: