This article explains some of the key facts that businesses need to know before achieving the ISO 14001 certification, the international accreditation for Environmental Management System (EMS). 

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is the formal systematic framework that businesses need to implement today to manage their short-term and long-term environmental impacts. Most of the business processes, products, or services have some consequences in the environment. Owing to dire changes in the climatic conditions and exhaustion of natural resources, it has become essential for businesses to have a standardized EMS to do their part in protecting the environment. The ISO 14001 certification is an international accreditation showing that their EMS is made of best practices and hence is able to manage, control, and mitigate their impacts on the environment. The certification also demonstrates to the stakeholders that the businesses are environmentally responsible and their EMS meets international and industry-specific regulations.

While clearly, the ISO 14001 certification for an EMS is a big step a business can take in an attempt to reduce its environmental footprint and risks, here are a few things that they should first understand. 

Critical Facts about ISO 14001 Certification That Organizations Should Know

Formation of the ISO 14001 Standard

The first question that may come in every business owner’s mind while implementing the ISO 14001 standard is how it is formed by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The standard was formed through a meticulous voluntary consensus by member countries. Each of them proposes its conditions for the standard and those conditions are then presented to other countries. Together they negotiate on determining the ideal conditions of the standard. A draft of the standard is sent to each country which then has to give a formal comment on the standard’s appropriateness. In this process, each country can seek the participation of various parties like big industries, governmental organizations, public service providers, and NGOs. They can help the country to better evaluate usefulness of the standard in mitigating environmental risks of a variety of projects. 

 Application of ISO 14001

Many businesses, especially the small ones, think that ISO 14001 is not applicable to them. However, the standard is essentially developed to help every type and size of business meet its specific environmental obligations and minimize their impacts. An EMS is in fact developed as a framework that helps organizations to take care of the environmental performance of their operations and implement pollution prevention practices wherever applicable. Clearly, the applicability of the standard is not limited to particular processes, operations or sizes of businesses.

Structuring the EMS for ISO 14001 Implementation

The ISO 14001 needs organizations to put in place a series of practices or measures, which together form an EMS.  The structuring of EMS is therefore based on a number of requirements:

  • A policy statement of the organization which includes controlling of pollution or wastes emissions, continual improvement of processes for resource and energy sustainability, and other applicable regulatory requirements 
  • Identification of the business operations, products or services that have/could have impact on the environment
  • Setting objectives and targets for performance of the EMS
  • Having an appropriate approach to periodically review the practices of EMS and establish their effectiveness
  • Checking the EMS for corrective actions implementation


Potential Benefits of EMS

An EMS whose objectives and structure are based on the ISO 14001 standard provides an organization with the following potential benefits:

  • Minimization of harmful impacts or risks which result in improvement of environmental performance and overall compliance
  • Reduction in costs and increase in energy efficiency when due to implementation of sustainable practices
  • Enhanced reputation in the market and increase in stakeholders’ confidence
  • Increase in marketability and more potential for sales


Key Takeaway 

Though the ISO 14001 certification is meant for validating your EMS, it helps businesses in many other ways, such as sustainability, which enhances their bottom line. Regardless of the business size or sector, you can implement the ISO 14001 standard. This also makes it one of the most popular ones in the world. Businesses that realize the concern for customers, shareholders, regulators and other business partners to reduce the impacts of their activities on the environment need to get an EMS certified with ISO 14001. Also, by complying with international standard and other regulations, businesses can avoid penalties, governmental interventions, or restrictions on their activities. 

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner of a reputed ISO consultancy firm that provides assistance to organizations in different sectors to get them certified with ISO management standards. He is also the senior ISO 14001 certification consultant who likes to write articles on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and its ISO certification to make businesses more aware.

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