The current climate crisis has brought a needed discussion about the environment to the forefront. The need for environmentally conscious business practices is no longer being ignored by industry leaders or consumers, and many companies have begun to embrace standards to guide their environmental efforts. A standard designed to aid businesses in understanding, implementing, and maintaining environmentally friendly processes is ISO 14001. ISO 14001 is a set of guidelines that provides companies with criteria for implementing an environmental management system (EMS). Continue reading this blog to understand more about ISO 14001 and its benefits.
What is ISO?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global independent network of member National Standards Bodies from over 160 countries. ISO facilitates cooperation between these organizations through various activities, such as by supporting their efforts to share knowledge and experience via mutual recognition agreements, facilitating trade by ensuring the compatibility of standards, and helping develop international conventions and recommendations for industrial and consumer products.
ISO develops and publishes these standards to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality. ISO 14001 is one such standard and is published by the ISO technical committee (TC) 209, Environmental management.
About the ISO 14001 Standard
ISO 14001 is a standard that provides guidance to organizations on how to implement an environmental management system (EMS). The EMS helps an organization manage its environmental responsibilities in a structured and systematic way. It does this by setting out the framework for an organization to follow and measures it can take to improve its environmental performance.
ISO 14001:2015 – What Does it Mean?
ISO 14001:2015 is the latest revision of ISO 14001, which was originally published in 1996. The 2015 revision reflects the changes in business and environmental practices since the original standard was published. The main changes include:
- A stronger focus on risk management
- Greater emphasis on leadership engagement and commitment
- Enhanced performance objectives
- Tighter environmental management, including more focus on the prevention of pollution
- Stronger preference for co-registration with third party (i.e., outside) certifications and standards such as ISO 50001:2018 Energy Management Systems and ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems
Why is ISO 14001 so Important?
ISO 14001 is important because it provides a framework for identifying and controlling the environmental impacts of an organization’s processes. Adopting ISO 14001 can help companies improve their relationship with stakeholders by meeting their expectations, increasing their productivity through continuous improvement, and increasing their competitiveness through resource optimization.
ISO 14001 is Applicable for Which Organizations?
As mentioned above, ISO 14001 is for any organization that wants to establish an environmental management system. This includes organizations from all sectors and sizes, as well as public and private sector organizations. In other words, ISO 14001 is a generic standard and of the most popular ISO standards that organizations throughout the world can implement.
What are the Benefits of ISO 14001 for Organizations?
The benefits of ISO 14001 include:
- Reduced environmental impacts
- Compliance with laws and regulations
- Improved stakeholder relationships
- Increased efficiency and reduced costs
- Improved product quality
- Green marketing opportunities
What is ISO 14001 Certification?
ISO 14001 certification provides an independent third-party attestation of an organization’s environmental management system. When properly implemented, this can help organizations identify and control their environmental impacts by providing guidance on how to prevent pollution, reduce waste, conserve energy, recover resources, engage employees in sustainability efforts, and keep records and reports. ISO 14001 certification is the most widely recognized EMS certification in the world, and can be used by any type of organization.
How to Prepare for ISO 14001 Certification
In order to prepare for ISO 14001 certification, an organization must first develop an EMS. The EMS should be based on the ISO 14001 standard and conform to the requirements of the certification body. Once the EMS is in place, the organization can then begin preparing for an audit by the certification body.
The certification process typically includes the following steps:
- Preparation – The organization prepares for the certification audit by ensuring that its EMS is in compliance with the standard and preparing all necessary documentation.
- Audit – The organization’s EMS is audited by a certification body to determine whether it meets the requirements of the standard.
- Certification – If the EMS meets the requirements, the certification body will award the organization with ISO 14001 certification.
- Maintenance – To maintain certification, the organization must undergo annual audits and continue to meet the requirements of the standard.
Tips to Pass an ISO 14001 Certification Audit
An organization can improve its chances of passing an ISO 14001 certification audit by following the tips below:
- Have a well-defined EMS – An ISO 14001 EMS that is clearly documented and easy to follow will make the audit process easier and less time consuming.
- Conduct regular internal audits – By conducting regular internal audits, the organization can identify and address any non-conformities before they become a problem.
- Implement a corrective action plan – If non-conformities are identified during the ISO 14001 audit, the organization must implement a corrective action plan to address them.
- Train employees on environmental management – Employees need to be aware of the organization’s environmental policies and procedures in order to ensure ISO 14001 compliance.
- Maintain accurate records – Records must be kept of all environmental incidents, corrective actions, and training activities in order to demonstrate compliance with the ISO 14001 standard.
What to Consider When Hiring a Certification Body?
An organization considering hiring a certification body for its ISO 14001 certification audit should consider the following:
- Customer service – Is there a local office from which customers can obtain assistance? Does it offer online support and resources?
- International presence – Does the certification body have an international office network to provide assistance at any location?
- Quality of service – What are previous clients saying about the quality of their services? How long has the certification body been in business? Is there a warranty or guarantee on its services?
- Technical capabilities – Does the certification body have the technical expertise to conduct an audit of an organization’s ISO 14001 EMS?
- Fees – What are the fees for certification and annual audits? Are there any discounts available for multiple certifications or large organizations?
- Approvals and accreditations – Is the certification body accredited by a national accreditation body such as ANAB, UKAS, etc.?
- Customer references – Can existing customers provide referrals? Are there testimonials available on the website?
- Gaining market visibility – Does the certification body have a social media presence that will help it gain market visibility? Is there a blog where subscribers can access industry-related information and resources?
- Training and resources – Does the certification body offer training and resources to help organizations implement an ISO 14001 EMS? Are there online tools and templates available?
- Ease of use – Is the certification body’s website easy to navigate? Does it provide all the information needed to make an informed decision about its services?
ISO 14001 – Conclusion
ISO 14001 is a globally accepted standard for environmental management. It provides organizations with a framework for identifying and reducing their environmental impact. By implementing an EMS, an organization can improve its environmental performance, save money, and reduce the risk of regulatory fines. An organization that is certified to ISO 14001 can be confident that it meets the requirements of the standard and is doing its part to protect the environment.
For more information on ISO 14001, please contact one of our business professionals. We will be happy to assist you!