Operation Clean Sweep in SQAS

During recent months a clearer acceptance of the SQAS system as equivalent to the certification system by the OCS Supervisory Board under Operation Clean Sweep requirements became visible. This board is composed of environment authorities, NGOs, certification bodies and industry representatives. The European Commission and Cefic have an observer status. It is therefore appropriate to communicate to you some of ECTA’s input on this matter.

ECTA´s input

  • ECTA has participated in the development of the current Operation Clean Sweep Europe requirements. We have also supported the integration of related questions in the SQAS Questionnaires (Core, TS, TC, WH). ECTA and ECTA members’ representatives in the SQAS Technical & Accreditation Committee have actively worked on the OCS questions as included in the SQAS 2022 modules.
  • The objective of ECTA’s OCS’ support and involvement was mainly because we wanted to avoid yet another certification requirement on top of already existing auditing schemes for our members.

With things now moving into the right direction it is important to clarify to you how the acceptance (as certification equivalent) of a valid SQAS assessment report is being organized.

Operation Clean Sweep Assessment in SQAS

  • The SQAS assessment is carried out in the normal way, the report is uploaded by the accredited SQAS assessor.
  • In the questionnaires used during the assessment, the template of questions related to Operation Clean Sweep requirements are identified.
  • If all identified (OCS) questions have been scored positively, an attestation will be created for the assessed company and this company’s name will be included on the list of companies complying to the OCS requirements. This list will be public.
  • If the company is not fulfilling 100% of all identified OCS requirements, the company will have to carry out intermediate(s) assessment(s) till this status is reached.

Results of the 2022 SQAS assessments are a bit disappointing, meaning that not a single company has reached the required 100% score on the template of OCS requirements. This would mean that all companies would need a follow up SQAS assessment to become recognized. An alternative would be to still go for the double audits for separate certification. We recommend that the companies with valid reports of 2022 and 2023 check their contents and if/when necessary, take action to meet the 100% score. Others that have their SQAS assessments planned need to ensure that they have all systems in place and evidence they are meeting OCS requirements in order to be successful and avoid extra auditing.