ISO 14001: Benefits & Certification Steps

ISO 14001 certification helps to fulfill environmental goals by ensuring compliance with an environmental management system (EMS). An EMS is a tool that businesses to use to manage environmental impacts, and it promotes methods to protect the environment and contribute to a sustainable future.

In his book, ‘ISO 14001 Environmental Certification Step by Step’, A. J. Edwards said, “Environmental management is keeping control of our activities so we can conserve these physical resources and avoid polluting them. Such has been the impact of industrial activity that resources are becoming depleted and environmental damage is increasing.” Steps need be taken by the international community and governmental authorities to control environmental impacts, and ISO 14001 certification is a brilliant way to implement a more strategic approach to reducing environment damage.

Listed below are some benefits that ISO 14001 certification brings to a business:

Ethical Benefits

Ensuring a safe and clean environment will show ethical responsibility, as everyone has the duty to protect and conserve the Earth, saving resources for future generations. Being ISO 14001 compliant helps to fulfill an ethical duty to the environment.

Economic Benefits

Most ISO 14000 certification consultants can easily point out the many economic benefits that come from certification. Practicing resource efficiency and generating less waste or using less energy will reduce that business costs, and insurance agencies will often levy a rebate in premiums for businesses that are successful at controlling their environmental impact, further saving on costs.

Commercial Benefits

As a business becomes environmentally responsible and reduces their environmental impacts, their suppliers and vendors will need to do the same. When all stakeholders prove their environmental responsibility, the business will be ready for the certification audit. Also, being able to prove that your business has sustainable environmental practices will open many new opportunities.

Legal Benefits

Governments pass environmental laws to regulate the impact of business activities on the environment. Becoming ISO 14001 certified and implementing a successful EMS will automatically help businesses stay compliant to these laws and preserve business reputation, avoiding any possible legal penalties.

These benefits show how certification greatly improves businesses. Listed below is the step-by-step process that provides ISO 14001 certification:

     1.   Acknowledge the Environmental Policy

Fully understand the environmental policy that applies to your particular industry. This will subsequently help with devising strategies for environmental compliance and deciding the EMS objectives.

     2.   Plan

Identify environmental impacts, such as air, water, or soil contamination, that have been caused by business processes. Once these harmful processes are determined, practices and measures to control or reduce the impacts can be implemented. Additionally, plan and delegate responsibilities to reduce the environmental impact.

     3.   Implement

The most important step for ISO 14001 certification is the implementation of a proper EMS, which can access and control adverse impacts of any business activities on the environment. Proper implementation includes a training program to ensure every member of your business is aware of the environmental objectives. Also, this step will require the documentation of the EMS and any measures needed to implement it.

     4.   Evaluate

Following EMS implementation, it is management’s responsibility to monitor the progress of environmental interactions and run an internal audit to identify any gaps in the EMS. With this internal audit, any non-conformities or errors in the system will have a chance to be addressed.

     5.   Review

Lastly, management will need to review the environmental objectives and gauge the effectiveness of the EMS. This review will provide a way to make the EMS more efficient by collecting suggestions from management members.

Final Words

ISO 14001 certification will ensure the implementation of an effective EMS in your business. However, certification can be a difficult process, and proper planning and preparation is needed before the certification audit. Hiring a professional quality assurance agency will help to streamline the certification process and ensure certification.