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ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is the most widely recognised environmental management system standard in the world. It demonstrates your commitment to controlling the impact of your activities on the environment.

The standard provides a best practice approach to improving your environmental performance and ensuring you remain legally compliant.

ISO 14001 provides a roadmap for improving every organisation’s environmental performance by adopting sound environmental management principles including:

  1. Maintaining commitment from senior management and buy-in from employees
  2. Assessing the impact your activities have on the environment
  3. Maintaining controls on your activities that have a significant environmental impact
  4. Monitoring developments in environmental legislation and checking compliance
  5. Continually looking for opportunities to reduce your impact on the environment and/or improving the environmental benefit of your products and services.

Who can benefit from ISO 14001?

Any organisation that wishes to manage its environmental impact, stay compliant with legislation or support the environmental objectives of its customers will benefit from achieving ISO 14001 certification.

ISO 14001 has been designed to be appropriate for any type or size of organisation. For SMEs it enhances their credibility. For larger organisations, ISO 14001 reinforces their environmental credentials and promotes the environmental benefits of their products and services.

As an increasing number of buyers are demanding their suppliers demonstrate a commitment to managing and reducing their environmental impact, achieving ISO 14001 can help keep your organisation ahead of or in line with your competitors.

How can ISO 14001 help you grow your business?

There are four key ways that ISO 14001 can help:

  1. ISO 14001 enables you to increase your sales by expanding your customer base and meeting the conditions of specific sales contracts
    Blue chip and local government organisations are increasingly demonstrating their commitment to the environment by becoming ISO 14001 certified. To help improve their performance these organisations are more and more likely to insist that their suppliers are also ISO 14001 certified. Often, suppliers are expected to have ISO 14001 as a prerequisite to winning contracts and tenders. Equas clients have won significant new business that they would not have acquired without ISO 14001.
  2. It can enable you to reduce your costs
    By implementing the processes required to achieve and maintain certification to ISO 14001, most organisations reduce their costs in areas such as waste handling, transportation, and the consumption of raw materials and energy. In most instances, implementing ISO 14001 provides a catalyst to finding new ways to achieve a more efficient use of resources.
  3. Improve the strength of your brand
    A growing number of customers are attracted to dealing with organisations that are seen as operating responsibly with consideration for their environment and community. Being certified to ISO 14001 increases the likelihood that customers and other third parties will have a positive image of your organisation and your brand.
  4. Reduce your operating risk
    ISO 14001 drives organisations to be aware of their environmental legal obligations and to implement measures to ensure that they remain compliant and are not exposed unforeseen events.

What is the process for achieving ISO 14001 certification?

  1. First, you need to make a decision on whether use a UKAS accredited or non-UKAS accredited certification body. You need to ensure you are satisfying your current and potential customers’ requirements for UKAS certification. (Click here for more information about UKAS)
  2. Decide which of your products, services and locations you want to include in the scope of the certification.
  3. Decide when you want to achieve certification by and plan to maintain the momentum of the project. This will depend on the complexity of your business activities, the current nature of its environmental impact and the number of sites included within the scope.
  4. Identify and allocate the resources required to complete the project by your target certification date. Where necessary, engage the support of an external consultancy firm. Decide how you will operate and maintain your management system documents and records e.g. pc, local server or specialist environmental management system software (click here for more information about Activ Online Management System).
  5. Commence the Project
    • Ensure you have buy-in from key colleagues
    • Carry out a Gap Analysis of your current system against the certification requirements
    • Plan the project including resources and timescales
    • Appoint a Certification Body
  6. Project Implementation
    • Project Manage to ensure key milestones and deadlines are met
    • Complete an environmental aspects assessment and identify your significant environmental aspects
    • Create appropriate documents to control your significant environmental aspects (e.g. purchasing, waste management, employee training)
    • Train your employees in the policies, procedures and control measures that are relevant to them
    • Carry out an Internal Audit and close out any significant actions identified
    • Complete your first Management Review meeting
  7. Undergo a certification audit by a UKAS-accredited certification body. This audit will be split into two visits. The first visit will review your system documentation (referred to as a Stage 1 audit). The second visit will audit your records, interview employees and assess whether you have effectively implemented your system (referred to as a Stage 2 audit).

What factors will affect your return on investment?

There are strong links with having a robust environmental management system and superior long-term business performance. The return you make on your investment in implementing and maintaining an ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System depends on a number of factors:

  • How ambitious your Environmental Policy and the Environmental Objectives you set are.
  • How much work you have previously undertaken to reduce your environmental impact.
  • The extent of the environmental legislation that applies to your business and the number of environmentally related contractual commitments you are bound by. If this is large, then implementing ISO 14001 will significantly improve the control you have in these areas and the potential reductions you can achieve in insurance costs and permit charges.
  • How well you exploit your ISO 14001 certification in your marketing and PR materials.
  • The time taken to achieve certification. The longer it takes you to achieve certification the longer it will be before you realise any benefits. It is often the case that organisations that take a long time to achieve certification have to undertake a certain amount of rework during the project.
  • How well you maintain your Environmental Management System after you’ve achieved certification.

What are the implications of ISO 14001:2015?

The ISO 14001 standard has recently been revised and new version of the standard was released in September 2015.

However, If you are certified before the new version comes into force, you will be able to retain your ISO 14001:2004 certification for up to 3 years from the date on which you first achieve certification.

The main difference between the 2004 version and the 2015 revision are:

  • An increased requirement to demonstrate continual improvement in your environmental performance.
  • A need to identify external/internal issues, relevant parties and requirements and assess the risk these pose to your environmental management system achieving its objectives.
  • Requirement to conduct a high level risk assessment to identify areas where you can improve.
  • The need for scopes to be more detailed and explicitly stated.
  • Increased focus on the hands-on involvement of the senior management – expect auditors to conduct more extensive interviews with CEOs and other Board members.

Please contact Equas if you would like advice and support on how to amend your current Environmental Management System to comply with the requirements of ISO 14001:2015.

How can ISO in a Box™ help you?

We have helped many organisations to achieve significant cost reductions and avoid penalty fines through the careful implementation of an environmental management system. We have also stimulated many customers to think creatively and develop objectives and improvement programmes that provide them with a competitive edge to deliver a positive impact for their customers.

Contact us now to find out more about how ISO 14001 can help increase your profitability, discuss your requirements or obtain a fixed-price quotation with guaranteed certification.

If you need to meet the requirements of other standards alongside, we specialise in building integrated systems.

Find your local ISO Consultant.

Contact us now to find out how to achieve ISO 14001, discuss your requirements or to obtain a fixed-price quotation with guaranteed certification.