ISO 14001 is a standard comprised of a set of guidelines environmental management systems in organisations. It is a global certification that can be obtained by a wide variety of businesses, and is one of the most well recognised ways in which companies can implement and signal their commitment to the environment. It looks in the broadest possible terms at:
1. How businesses can get a better understanding of the environmental impact they are having
2. How businesses can control that impact
3. How to improve (minimise) that impact
When in place, it is intended to provide a framework for reducing waste, cutting costs and minimizing damage to the environment as a result of business operations it is a voluntary certification that businesses can obtain from various parties that offer registration.
How Do Companies Use ISO 14001?
Unlike some other standards and government regulations, ISO 14001 doesn’t prescribe specific environmental targets that companies need to meet. Rather, it serves as a framework and set of guidelines for a company’s environmental management system – the focus is on the quality and type of the internal systems, rather than on external targets, which can often steer businesses in unforeseen and unintended directions.
ISO 14001: 2015 at a Glance
The aim of ISO 14001: 2015 is to clearly define a framework that businesses or organisations can work to in order to develop an environmental management system that is as robust and effective as possible. It does not state entry requirements like many of the other ISO standards, but instead defines the criteria needed in order to achieve certification. The main benefits of ISO 14001: 2015 are:
1. Reduced distribution costs
2. Less wastage
3. Energy savings
4. Enhanced corporate image
As it is designed as a general set of guidelines that can be adapted to any specific business, the costs of implementation naturally vary widely. Small and medium service enterprises may find that ISO 14001 simply requires implementation of a few tracking processes and one-off changes. On the other hand, large manufacturing operations may understandably have a lot more work to do to meet the ISO 14001 standard.