The ISO 14001 standard is an internationally acclaimed standard that defines the criteria for forming an Environmental Management System (EMS). This means achieving the ISO 14001 certification for your business implies that you have successfully implemented an EMS to keep in check all harmful environmental risks and impacts. The certification is achievable by businesses of any size and in any sector, regardless of their geographical location because of the management area that it addresses. Environmental impacts or consequences are quite common in all businesses, so achieving the ISO certification helps them to tactfully address and mitigate their impacts. However, the requirements of the standard are made flexible to help companies of different sizes and different sectors achieve it without any hurdles.

ISO 14001 is essential for any organization that strives to control its environmental impacts in a methodical way and prevent them from reoccurring again. The following section of this article explains in further detail the foundation of the ISO 14001 standard and how its implementation benefits a business.

ISO 14001 Certification: A Brief History and Benefits of Its Implementation

Brief Explanation of the Background of the ISO 14001 Certification

In the early 1980s and 1990s, the whole world started being concerned more about the impacts created in the environment by incessant human activities especially trade and industrial activities. Many large countries and international agencies came together and formed treaties regarding environmental protection. They are the ‘codes of practices’ that companies must follow to mitigate pollution and other environmental impacts. In 1992, the British Standards Institute, in an attempt to put strict environmental regulations on businesses, formed BS 7750 whose framework was based on the then quality management standard, BS 5750. However, the quality standard got revised in the following years and was named ISO 9001 in 1989 because many businesses were confused with the BS 5750 guidelines. This simultaneously provided the foundation for the environmental management standard, ISO 14001 which was publicly introduced in 1996 after many revisions.

Since then, ISO 14001 has been acclaimed globally as a standard for an EMS and has been achieved by an increasing number of businesses. The standard, just like any other ISO standard, is reviewed every 5 years to ensure that the management of current environmental challenges and relevant aspects are incorporated. As of now, the latest revised version of the standard is ISO 14001:2015. The key improvements that were made in this last include:

• Consideration of external and internal elements of the business that can affect the environmental management processes of your business
• Understanding the needs of the interested parties who are related to your organization or EMS internally or externally
• Strengthening of leadership in EMS implementation by the top-tier management of the organization
• Aligning of the environmental management objectives with the organization’s objectives
• Clear and consistent communication channels to build a culture of environmental management within the organization
• A PDCA (Plan-do-check-act) methodology to ensure continual improvement of your environmental management

Benefits of Achieving ISO 14001 Certification for a Business

With a focus on strengthening the EMS, the ISO 14001 certification helps businesses to achieve a benchmark in environmental protection. There are numerous benefits that you can count on with the certification. Here are some of them:

Creates more opportunities for the business: The certification is a demonstration of your business’s good environmental management efforts and that becomes a USP (Unique Selling Point) of your business. The customers, distributors, or other organizations which need your product or services will be interested in purchasing from your business because that helps to demonstrate their conformance to environmental obligations.

Reduction of costs: One inherent benefit is the reduction of operational costs for your business. This is mainly achieved due to efficient use of resources, energy, and water, as well as reduction in wastes generated by the processes.

Legal compliance: The ISO 14001 standard is based on different regulations imposed by different countries and environmental authorities. Hence, achieving the standard logically enables your business to comply with regulatory and statutory environmental requirements.

With the assurance of these fundamental benefits, most organizations are achieving the ISO 14001 certification by implementing a robust EMS framework. When ISO 14001 is achieved successfully, it gives control over the organization’s activities, processes, products, or services and minimizes their effects or harm on the environment. This enhances the sustainability and viability of your company in the long term.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is a dedicated writer and the owner of an esteemed ISO certification consultancy that provides guidance to businesses to get them certified with relevant standards. He is an ISO 14001 certification specialist and likes to write articles on the certification, its benefits, and other topics to help businesses make informed decisions.

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