The ISO 14001, an international standard that puts an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place is currently undergoing revision, with a final standard due to be published in 2015. It is utilised by over a quarter of million organisations worldwide, in 155 countries. Each of the standards within the ISO family are regularly reviewed and updated. This is consistent with spirit of continual improvement which forms the basis of all the ISO certifications.
What advantages does being ISO 14001 certified offer?
An ISO 14001 certification allows a business to scrutinise its environmental procedures in a structured way, so that it can become more efficient and green. Becoming ISO 14001 certified offers the benefit of demonstrating social and corporate responsibility and a commitment to the environment. Companies can claim they are employing green practices within the workplace but it can be difficult to quantify and prove this. ISO 14001 provides a formalised framework for, and public recognition of, a company’s competent and conscious efforts to improve their environmental processes. Furthermore, employing environmental practices can often result in cost savings through the reduced use of energy, water and waste.
What will the Changes Mean for Business?
The ISO 14001 revisions are to impact the structure and content of an EMS. It is expected that the ISO 14001 will become more aligned with other ISO standards, such as the 9001 (quality), 27001 (information security) and 50001 (energy), in order to encourage businesses to implement an overall, more expansive management system, rather than just applying numerous bolt-ons. This will enable a business to have one cohesive management system, with the potential for multi sub management systems that all work together.
For businesses that have already implemented an EMS, small changes will be introduced in order to increase sustainability even further. Assessment will now include how changes to the environment affect businesses rather than simply how a business can affect the environment. This is important because the current ISO 14001 is often criticised as not having stringent enough criteria to ensure a business is truly committing to environmental practices.
The revision also places a greater emphasis on leadership and ensuring that environmental management has a clearer link to the management of the entire business. Clear objectives must be set and the EMS must be incorporated in to the everyday processes. There is also an expectation that the leadership commit to reducing pollution and using resources in a sustainable manner. ISO are attempting to embed sustainability in to business culture as a whole.
ISO are also hoping that the revisions will streamline management processes and encourage businesses to adopt more of their certification standards in order to reap the rewards of implementing sustainable management methods.
About the Author
This article was written by business contributor Rachel Hemsley. If you’re interested in finding out more about ISO 14001 visit www.qmsuk.com/iso-14001.php