ISO 14001 – Global Reach and its application in the Business Industry
The dynamic environment that we are living in has enabled companies to bloom and develop, however, these developments have created an impact on the environment, from which, as far as we can see, the environment has not been blooming as well. On the contrary, the environment has become so fragile that it needs protection. Hence, organizations now must address their impact on the environment and validate how they are doing it.
For many organizations nowadays, sustainability has become an essential element that needs to be addressed in all their operations. And for organizations that want to address the environmental pillar of sustainability, ISO 14001 is a great start since it helps organizations to manage environmental aspects in a systematic order. In addition, an organization can get certified with ISO 14001, and attest to their customers that they are precautious of their impact on environmental issues.
Environmental Management System (EMS) and Environmental Performance are the two main components that ISO 14001 focuses on. Organizations that have implemented an EMS based on ISO 14001, consider the impact of environmental aspects and by fulfilling compliance obligations and reducing the internal and external risks, they enhance their environmental performance. Hence, how organizations manage the environmental aspects has to do with environmental performance.
Where should an organization start?
ISO 14001 is suitable for all organizations. The size, type, and nature of the organization does not limit the implementation of this standard. What top management could do is to start implementing an EMS and address new actions that improve the environmental performance and, based on these two, create an environmental policy. The environmental policy should emphasize how to enhance environmental performance and consider the protection of the environment by preventing and mitigating its negative impacts.
While in ISO 14001 environmental performance criteria are not mentioned, it is up to organizations to determine their environmental impact and, based on that, create policies, objectives, processes that measure and continually improve their environmental performance.
However, organizations are free to decide whether they want to implement parts of the standard or the standard as a whole. The difference between the two is that only organizations that implement an EMS based on all the requirements of ISO 14001 and have successfully fulfilled them, can get certified with ISO 14001. Whereas, implementing only parts of the ISO 14001 standard would still create a positive impact in your organization and the environment, yet there would be no valid proof that you are doing so.
Thus, it is no surprise that there are more than 350,000 organizations that are certified with ISO 14001 worldwide, more specifically in 171 different countries (ISO Survey, 2020).
Why should an organization consider getting ISO 14001 Certification?
Getting certified with ISO 14001 for many organizations, despite improving their environmental performance, comes with many other benefits, such as:
- Enhanced reputation – With today’s sustainability trends, customers are always opting for organizations that consider their environmental impact and their contribution to society. Hence, showing to your customers that you have taken great action with regards to the environment by implementing an internationally recognized standard, gives your organization credibility and improved image. These create a larger customer base that results in greater market share. Moreover, stakeholders’ confidence in the organization will be increased. This means that your stakeholders are convinced that your organization is improving environmental performance in line with the organization’s objectives stakeholders rely on.
- Cost reduction – By following efficient solutions that benefit the environment, organizations also cut down costs. This provides a competitive advantage that is financially beneficial as well, since the implemented EMS enables organizations to reduce incidents by the use of efficient resources that reduce waste.
- Compliance validation – For some organizations that operate in industries that need valid demonstration of compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements, being ISO 14001 certified is mandatory since it confirms that certified organizations follow such regulations.
- Accomplishment of objectives – Organization’s environmental related objectives are achieved with ISO 14001. The standard requires organizations to set their objectives with corresponding procedures and policies, always by having in mind the environmental aspects too. Following these requirements will enable organization to improve their operations and run them efficiently.
- Employee incorporation & Leadership commitment – Implementing ISO 14001 involves everyone in the organization. While employees are engaged in the process, leadership should show their commitment, and together as a group they can reduce the environmental impact of their organization. This also creates a better impact within their moral, since the organization validates its concern about the environment and shows its commitment towards environmental improvement.
- Continual improvement – Creating a culture of continual improvement makes the staff be more focused on improving the processes to a better level and this also creates an easier way of managing the EMS.
How to get certified with ISO 14001?
To get the ISO 14001 Certification, first you would need to find a third-party certification body that would audit your organization’s ISO 14001 management system. While being certified with ISO 14001 is not a mandatory requirement and for some organizations the benefits of implementing the standard in part would be sufficient, validating that your organization is in conformity with the requirements of ISO 14001 by getting audited and certified would help your organization to denote to your customers and stakeholders that you have followed and implemented all the requirements of the standard properly.
Therefore, for organizations that want to get certified there are some small steps they can take before implementing the standard:
Step 1: Set your objectives. What are the main points that you want to achieve from ISO 14001?
Step 2: Leadership commitment is a core factor in the process of creating an effective EMS. Therefore, make sure you get the buy-in of upper management.
Step 3: Take a look at the current processes and systems that relate to the environmental aspects, and from this create a starting point for the implementation of the EMS. This would help to detect possible gaps and let you focus on what needs to be corrected.
After taking these steps, organizations can start implementing an EMS by creating all the necessary policies, objectives, and procedures, and defining its scope. Once the documentation is provided, organizations need to test whether the EMS is efficient and effective by conducting an internal audit, having a management review, and taking necessary corrective actions. If the organizations see that their EMS is working, they can continue with the audit of the EMS by a certification body.
Selecting the right certification body to perform the third-party audit is vital for your organization’s success. The extent to which your certification adds value and provides comparative advantage to the organization depends significantly on this selection.
How would this work with MSECB ISO 14001 certification?
Receiving an internationally recognized certification from a globally renowned certification body, such as MSECB, has proved to have a multidimensional impact on previously certified organizations, and ultimately has increased the market share and recognition of those organizations.
The certification process is separated in two stages:
- During Stage 1 Audit, MSECB would conduct a review of the EMS to verify whether the client is ready for the Stage 2 Audit.
- After Stage 1 is completed successfully, the Stage 2 will be conducted. The Stage 2 Audit is a more in-depth audit to verify whether the client has met all the requirements of the standard.
Upon verifying that your organization is in conformity with the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard, the certification is granted by MSECB. The certification is then maintained through scheduled annual surveillance audits conducted by MSECB, with the recertification audit performed on a triennial basis. Read more about our certification process here.
To sum up, having an ISO 14001 certification serves as a valid approval, which is internationally recognized, that confirms that your organization is following the best practices and is being cautious about their environmental impact.
By managing, monitoring, and controlling their environmental aspects, organizations that get certified with ISO 14001 not only improve their environmental performance through the efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, but also, they gain a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders. Thus, the organization, its interested parties, and the environment benefit from the implementation of the EMS.
Is your organization concerned about environmental issues? Start your ISO 14001 certification today by getting a Free Quote.