At JR Consultants we are experts in ISO and know how vital it is in this day and age that organisations take the necessary steps to manage their environmental impact. ISO 14001 is important for businesses to gain control over their environmental impact and can provide added benefits from the implementation of the high standard processes and procedures required to gain accreditation.
The ISO 14001 environmental management system has increased in importance due to society’s growing concerns surrounding global warming and the environmental impact at both a local and international level. With these issues becoming of fundamental importance to businesses and customers it is worth considering ISO 14001 certification for your organisation.
ISO 14001 helps businesses of all sizes, across all industries and sectors make their day to day operations more maintainable. This improved sustainability can help businesses to save money, improve their brand reputation, better engage with employees and build up a robust resilience against uncertainty in order to be able to rapidly adapt to change.
About ISO 14001
The term ISO stands for the ‘International Organisation for Standardisation’. This global body creates and maintains all ISO standards, which are designed to uphold and signal quality in a particular aspect of business. With input from businesses and trade organisations from around the world they set the standard that is used as an internationally recognised hallmark of quality for successfully accredited companies.
ISO 14001 is an Environment Management System (EMS), which is a tool for managing the impact that an organisation has on the environment. By providing the necessary structure and framework businesses need, this system works to help them recognise, regulate and manage their impact on the environment, determining potential issues before they become a problem as opposed to just reacting to them after the fact. This works across areas such as goods, processes, products and services and not just for the immediate future but for the long term.
ISO 14001 follows a cycle of – Plan, Do, Check, Act. The first phase of ISO 14001 is to develop and plan the environmental policy and EMS. The second phase is to then implement the EMS. Phase three involves the checking and reviewing of what has been put in place and the fourth phase is the continuous improvement of the EMS.
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 an organisations 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.
As it is designed as a general set of guidelines that can be adapted to any specific business, the costs of implementation can vary. Some small and medium service enterprises may find that they need to implement just a few tracking processes and one-off changes. On the other hand, some organisations and larger manufacturing operations could have a lot more work to do to meet the standard.
By utilising ISO consulting services from the beginning, businesses are able to easily identify any operations that have a negative impact on the environment and help minimise their unwanted effects as determined necessary. This makes the path to certification a lot simpler and quicker for companies who otherwise would have to navigate the often complicated and demanding process without expert guidance and advice.
ISO 14001 Requirements
Although there are no requirements for how organisations implement ISO 14001, in order to successfully achieve certification, you must be able to provide the necessary documentation as evidence that your Environmental Management System (EMS) meets the required standard.
The purpose for documentation is to ensure that robust environmental processes are in place and demonstrate your dedication to reaching your environmental objectives.
There are numerous elements within the standard of ISO 14001 that organisations are required to meet in order to successfully achieve formal recognition for their EMS. Some of these general requirements include;
- Developing an environmental policy which reflects the organisation’s commitment
- Appointing a person(s) to be responsible for the EMS’s coordination
- Identifying how the organisation interacts with the environment
- Ascertaining the actual and potential environmental impact
- Recognising environmental compliance requirements
- Establishing environmental objectives, targets and programmes
- Monitoring and measuring the progress in order to achieve objectives
- Reviewing the system and environmental performance
- The continuous improvement of the business’s environmental performance
The Benefits of ISO 14001 Certification
It is becoming more important than ever for organisations to demonstrate their environmental conscience and the impact their business has on the environment. Putting in place systems to improve processes that will benefit the environment will also benefit the business with reduced costs and increased efficiency throughout the organisation.
It looks in the broadest possible terms at:
- How businesses can get a better understanding of the environmental impact they are having
- How businesses can control that impact
- How to improve (minimise) that impact
When in place, ISO 14001 provides the framework needed to help reduce waste, cut costs and minimise damage to the environment as a result of business operations.
Some of the main benefits of ISO 14001 include;
- Reduced Environmental Impact
The most immediate and obvious benefit is the end result of the new systems put in place – the reduced environmental impact and liability. Most companies already have some type of environmental management systems within their business, and ISO 14001 lets them utilise what they already have and bring it up to an international standard.
Implementation of ISO 14001 requires businesses to make clear the processes and systems involved in waste production and each individual process is analysed in turn for possible adjustments, changes or improvements. Processes that prove to be particularly ineffective can be replaced with better ones and redundant processes can be removed.
Although improving just one individual process might not make much of a difference, this thorough overhaul produces a business with a considerably better environmental profile.
- Reduced Costs
With ISO 14001 implementation, companies gain efficiency which results in a reduction of costs from lower utilities and waste streams which is another very positive outcome of businesses tightening up their environmental impact.
This knock-on effect is a welcome by-product of the waste management systems and processes that ISO 14001 necessarily dictates. Often, becoming environmentally friendly means finding new efficiencies in the business which means reducing inputs or reducing losses in processing.
The bottom line is a reduction in cost or resources – a desirable outcome for any business.
- Improved Corporate Image
Another benefit of ISO 14001 certification is the credibility it lends to the company’s perception, both amongst existing and potential customers and prospective partners.
Because of its international recognition, the ISO 14001 standard is a reliable indicator of an organisations environmental concerns and a strong signal that they have achieved a certain degree of ‘greenness’ – which is highly valued in today’s eco conscience markets.
The improvements in corporate image can also open doors that were previously closed, as certain organisations will only do business with companies that are ISO 14001 certified. There will always be a benefit from being able to demonstrate to your customers, both new and potential, that you take your environmental responsibilities seriously.
- Improved Compliance
ISO 14001 delivers improved compliance with environmental legislations and ensures that your organisation is ready for any external audit that may occur and will pass them without penalty. This will likely also reduce the need for regular surveillance which can save the company valuable time and money.
Some of the many other benefits of ISO 14001 can include;
- Demonstrates your commitment to improving the environment
- More control of risk and better planning
- Develops awareness of the environment amongst employees
- Reduced environmental liability
- Can reduce insurance cover costs
- Ensures a sustainable model for business development
- Gain an advantage over competitors when tendering for business
ISO 14001 certification signifies that a business not only meets the high international standard for ISO but is dedicated to continuous improvement. This distinguished hallmark of excellence assures both potential customers and stakeholders that you take environmental issues seriously.
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The Need for ISO 14001
Environmental issues are a global concern, and with a high level of awareness they are only going to become more and more relevant in the short-term future. organisations that do not pay attention to their environmental impact currently are considered outmoded, old fashioned and out of date, making them increasingly undesirable to buy from and deal with.
The Qualification Process – An ISO 14001 Overview
Many businesses have the need for ISO 14001, but put off their application because they think they won’t qualify but in fact, this is the easiest part. There are no minimum criteria for applicants which means that getting started is easy.
If you can answer yes to the following questions, then you should strongly consider applying for ISO 14001 status;
- Environmental management is relevant to my business / organisation
- Improving my business / organisation’s quality assurance processes matters to me
- I am committed to the important of continuous development and recognise the positive rewards this will bring
Understanding the Context of ‘Environment’
Improving your business to make it more profitable is important and so is the commitment to helping the global environment. But if you’re still debating about the need for ISO 14001 look out the window or take a walk through your building as these are the surroundings you’ll be changing first. With ISO 14001 in place you’ll be able to see the positive effects your decisions have on efficiency, wastage, staff morale and customer satisfaction within an extremely short space of time.
Five Reasons to Say Yes to ISO 14001
If you are still not convinced that ISO 14001 is right for your business, here are five reasons to say yes;
- Improved efficiency will drive your costs down over time e.g. fuel, wastage, energy etc.
- If you have permits and licenses you will be monitored less which means fewer visits from regulatory agencies / bodies.
- Your environmental liability will be automatically reduced and could save you money on insurance.
- Perception and opinion of your business from customers and partners is improved as the standard demonstrates your genuine commitment and concern for the environment.
- You will be more competitive in the market as ISO 14001 certification will attract new customers.
Our Expert ISO 14001 Consultants
At JR Consultants we work with our clients from the beginning to help provide a clear, reliable and accurate guide through the ISO compliance process. We are on hand to help organisations navigate the minefields of paperwork and complicated information and implement the systems needed to drive and support the improvements required to meet the standards.
By having a well-defined EMS framework in place your organisation will be better equipped with a robust, systematic approach to compliance. We will work with you to design, document, implement and operate a simple environmental management system (EMS) which meets all the certification requirements of ISO 14001.
Our consultants will design the system around your existing business and environmental practices wherever possible, helping you to establish the necessary controls to ensure you are in compliance with all relevant legislation and enable you to identify and address areas where you do not comply to the ISO 14001 certification standard.
Once the system has been implemented, we will recommend you for the initial audit visit from a UKAS accredited external assessment body. We will then arrange for your system to be fully audited by one of our own auditors, and the final ISO 14001 requirements will usually take place within 3 months of the initial audit visit (depending upon the external assessment body). Click for more information about UKAS accredited external assessment body.
It is our job as the experts to provide our clients with a valuable service that allows you to spend your time focusing on what is important – your business. Our team of expert ISO consultants are passionate about helping your business to achieve the recognition it deserves.
For more information about how we can help provide your business with a clear, straight forward and cost effective path to ISO 14001 certification, please contact us.
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