The Business Benefits of ISO 14001

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Within our ever-changing climate, there is increasing pressure from both the public and regulatory bodies to ensure that companies resolve any environmental issues created by their operations.

ISO 14001 helps an organisation to become greener and put a system of continual improvement in place. Aside from the more obvious and significant benefits to our planet, the climate and our future, why should a business consider implementing this globally recognised standard?

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is an international standard that allows companies to set up and implement an Environmental Management System (EMS). Companies use this framework to establish their own performance targets alongside the procedures, systems and reviews to ensure sustainable business operations and successfully implement the standard.

It can be combined effectively with other management system standards — in particular, the very well known and globally recognised ISO 9001 — helping set out a complete management system for organisations to not only achieve their goals but implement policies of continual improvement, too.

Who should consider ISO 14001?

As with all globally recognised standards, ISO 14001 is very popular because of its generic nature, which makes it suitable for all types of business. From the office that’s looking to drop power consumption, to the large factory that wants to remove waste from its processes — this standard is one of the ultimate ways for companies to become environmentally-friendly, without going through costly environmental investigations.

It’s also becoming an increasingly popular method for organisations to gain green credentials with the IEMA reporting an 8% growth in global adoption of the standard in 2017.

Benefits of ISO 14001

Why should a company implement ISO 14001? There are several benefits including:

  • Reduced energy and material costs — by choosing renewable energy sources and committing to less in-house waste, production processes become more efficient and cost-effective. According to some researchers this is the number one benefit for a business to adopt an EMS.
  • Reduced waste management costs — with less waste produced by the business, the costs of waste removal and off-site processing are cut significantly. During implementation, companies can create a framework that throws every stage of their waste-handling under the microscope, from storage through to labelling and finally transportation and disposal.
  • Ongoing compliance with legislation — ISO 14001 works in tandem with your regulatory responsibilities, ensuring that your company meets environmental targets set by both local and national government. With fines increasing for companies falling foul of their environmental obligations together with the bad publicity this can cause for them, no organisation can afford to ignore its environmental impact anymore.
  • Reduced insurance premiums — because there’s less risk of a certified business creating an environmental incident or being found liable due to negligence in cases of ecological damage.
  • Improved company image and marketability — an article in Forbes shows that while customers are not willing to pay extra for a green business, they now expect sustainability to be a baseline. If a company is failing to meet its green targets or enact any kind of positive environmental change then customers are likely to punish this organisation and shop elsewhere.
  • The Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has shown a link between accredited Environmental Management Systems and sustainable growth among SMEs that took part.

ISO 14001 certification ensures that a business meets current public expectation, and can act as a badge that assures both potential customers and stakeholders that it takes green issues seriously.

  • Pre-qualification in tender processes — some business contracts will require your organisation to demonstrate an adherence to environmental standards. ISO 14001 often can pre-qualify you for this part of the application process.

This is supported by research conducted at British Assessment Bureau. 58% of respondents said their motivation for achieving ISO 14001 certification came from this demand from clients for evidence of environmental compliance before continuing to trade with them — with this figure rising year-on-year.

  • Helping define your corporate social responsibility policy — with an increasing number of businesses now employing the use of CSR policies to demonstrate adherence to wider social issues and concerns, ISO 14001 can be an effective way for an organisation to easily cover its environmental obligations.

ISO 14001 success stories

Two companies that have successfully implemented ISO 14001 and have gained recognition with the Organisation Internationale de Normalisation, are Premier Foods and the UPCON Corporation. They had this to say about implementation and outcomes:

“UPCON provides services to lift up sunken concrete floors using its unique UPCON method. Achieving certification to ISO 14001 in 2008 allowed us to document effectively the details of our method for all staff to share and standardize the quality of work at every site.”

“In addition to boosting our competitiveness through more accurate quality control, ISO 14001 also strengthens our confidence in our method by demonstrating that it produces 90% less CO2 emissions when compared to concrete replacement.”

“What’s more, since our certification, staff engagement and motivation have increased, safe in the knowledge that they are contributing positively to the environment through our products and services.”

Nobukazu Matsudo — UPCON, Japan

“Since 2001, we have used ISO 14001 to make big improvements such as increasing our organization’s recycling rate. We have now been at ‘zero landfill’ since March 2013 and are recycling and reusing 100% of our site wastes.”

“We have continued to improve our relationship with neighbours because we have the processes in place to respond quickly to any concerns. Among other benefits, our processes and the appointment of Green Matters Champions ensure that staff are environmentally engaged and aware of the site’s potential impact on the environment.”

Richard Giles — Premier Foods, UK

Implementation of ISO 14001

The requirements for ISO 14001 are broken down into clauses, that include:

  • Context of the organisation — examining and understanding a company’s management structure, the internal and external green issues and the scope of the proposed EMS.
  • Leadership — defining roles and responsibilities that demonstrate a clear commitment to successfully implementing the EMS.
  • Planning — risks and opportunities must be assessed; improvement targets need to be identified and robust plans put into place to achieve the chosen goals.
  • Support — accruing all the resources needed to implement the EMS together with all the documentation requirements.
  • Performance evaluation — assessing how progress is being made, questioning how goals are being achieved and reviewing the overall implementation process.
  • Improvement — looking at the findings of the review process and using the learnings to further streamline future changes and restructuring.

ISO 14001 for your Business

If you would like to learn more about how ISO 14001 could specifically benefit your business or want to start the implementation process, please contact our expert team for support.

Our ISO 14001 certificates are UKAS accredited to provide the highest level of assurance and security for your organisation.

For more information, get in touch with our award-winning team.

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Written by Neill Gatley

EMS Scheme Manager - Experienced management systems Lead Auditor and EMS Scheme Leader. Assessing clients management systems to the requirements of ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001.