Is ISO 14001 all it's cracked up to be?
What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS) for companies which are environmentally conscious and who wish to monitor and improve their performance.
The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) defines an environmental management system as “part of the management system used to manage environmental aspects, fulfil compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities.”
One of its many positives is that it is a voluntary standard and provides a clear framework which can be integrated with other standards, such as ISO 9001, to further reach organisational goals. As part of its parameters it supports continuous improvement in environmental policy and corporate activity in order to build a flexible EMS that will help a company become more resilient and sustainable.
ISO 14001 is suitable for all types of organisations and requires that a company reviews environmental processes relating to its operations, such as pollution, resource use, sewage, waste management, soil contamination, climate change impact and efficiency.
What are its advantages?
Like all ISO standards, ISO 14001 encourages continual improvement of an organisation’s systems and environmental approach. In fact, the newly revised standard now puts additional focus on environmental management within corporate strategy planning processes, greater managerial input and a stronger commitment towards boosting environmental performance.
Systems such as this are significant for their goal of reducing corporate environmental impact as well as helping to bring about several improvements for companies adopting them, making it more popular and likely to be adopted by even more corporations as time goes on.
In fact users of the standard have reported that it has helped them demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements, streamlining operations even more. They also report increases in managerial involvement in day to day operations as well as a rise in staff engagement in green matters and procedural improvements. The standard can also result in improved company reputation and added stakeholder confidence as it becomes more evident that their voluntary approach to sustainability gives them credibility, builds trust and shows initiative.
Besides the rewards in terms of status and reputation the standard also results in financial gains for participants as it inadvertently leads to more efficient procedures and cost reductions as well as improving the supply line by requiring suppliers to become integrated into their improved systems.
What areas does ISO 14001 cover?
As part of helping organisations put together a concise environmental management system the standard examines legal obligation, employee engagement and leadership, business operations, performance, structural improvements and planning. This range of issues provides a robust framework on which to concentrate environmental goals.
How does it relate to Business Relocation?
As part of our own EMS, ISO 14001 has been very beneficial across the business. In terms of cost savings it has led us to installing LED lighting which not only saves money but is brighter and safer overall. Furthermore, the use of ISO 14001 procedures allows us to manage our Environmental Permit requirements in order to offer a bespoke recycling service to our customers and remain within our 0% waste to landfill goals while also fulfilling their own environmental targets. Finally, it has helped us promote environmental awareness in our industry while it has allowed us to work and have credibility with similarly enlightened organisations both as customers and in the supply chain. It has therefore helped us achieve our strategic aims simply by adding environmental processes into our day to day business practise which we use as a unique selling point and to our tactical advantage.
Most importantly the standard has opened the door to our commitment to reduce carbon emissions through our association with The Planet Mark which tracks our yearly emission levels and energy use and advises us on to how to perform better year on year.