The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management Standard, last updated in 2015, sets out key criteria for environmental management and, in turn, environmental compliance. By using a framework to map out an effective environmental management system, it can be tailored to any type of organization regardless of product, service, or industry, and can provide assurance that a business’s environmental impact is being measured, addressed, and continually improved.
The ISO 14000 family of standards are developed by the ISO Technical Committee ISO/TC 207 along with its various subcommittees, and a full list of published standards can be viewed in the technical committee’s standards catalogue here. Organizations can be certified under the standard, and there are many benefits to pursuing the system.
The organizational benefits of implementing the ISO 14001 framework include:
- Improvements in resource efficiency;
- Reduction of waste;
- A higher level of assurance that environmental impact is being accurately measured;
- Gaining a competitive advantage in supply chain design;
- Increasing new business opportunities;
- Meeting associated legal obligations;
- An increase in both stakeholder and customer trust;
- Improving the overall environmental impact of your company;
- More consistent management of environmental compliance obligations; and
- A significant reduction in costs.
In fact, the financial benefits may perhaps be the most persuasive case for C-level executives, should you be looking to increase buy-in for adopting the framework. Case studies from the ISO have shown that achieving ISO 14001 certification provides economic benefit to a company of between 0.5% and 4% of their annual sales revenue. Companies also report savings in:
- Energy costs for fuel and general utilities as a result of increased plant reliability and process efficiency;
- Materials use, through the reduction of off-specification product; and
- Legal compliance costs.
Implement the Framework, Streamline with Solutions
General guidelines for implementing the ISO systems are available via ISO 14004, and guidelines for a flexible approach to phased implementation can be found in ISO 14005. If you’re looking to simplify things further, however, the framework for the ISO 14001 standard can be used within what the American Society for Quality (ASQ) describes as a plan-do-act-check (PDCA) approach:
- Plan: Recognize an opportunity and plan to make a change.
- Do: Test the planned change by carrying out a small study.
- Check: Review your test study, analyze its results, and identify what you’ve learned.
- Act: Take action based on what you have learned.
PDCA is a cycle for continuous improvement: If the change did not work, go through the cycle again, but with a different plan. If you were successful, incorporate what you have learned in the process into creating new and wider changes. Plan new improvements and continue the cycle.
Dakota Software’s ProActivity Suite is structured with PDCA in mind, and its solutions further provide the ISO 14000 family’s structural framework within the software, making your transition to this beneficial management system even more convenient. With full texts of the ISO standards plus audit protocols to ensure a smooth implementation and path to certification, the software can ease your journey towards all of the benefits of consistent, compliant, and sustainable environmental management.