‘The environment’ is an extremely – and necessarily – broad subject, encompassing the UK’s rich and vibrant natural landscapes as well as the state of its rivers, seas, shores and atmospheres. The environment is well protected and heavily regulated, as are the various industries that stipple the UK. In a world of environmental catastrophe, it is hard to get government, citizens and businesses on the same page. However, the emergence of an international standard could help the latter find common ground, improving the world in the process.
What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is an international standard that describes the creation, upholding and supervision of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) within businesses. An EMS is a structured framework for formalising processes and responses to a variety of environmental concerns, from the management of materials and waste to the addressing of unsustainable processes and far beyond.
ISO 14001 is part of a larger ‘family’ of international standards, all pertaining to implementation and oversight of EMSes. However, ISO 14001 is unique in that it defines standardised processes for businesses to follow – and can be certified to by businesses adopting the standard. ISO 14001 is a highly useful international standard to certify to, but certification is not a legal requirement for businesses; why, then, should they certify?
Advantages of Adoption
Certifying in ISO 14001 enables a business to gain unique and complex understandings of the processes necessary to ensure environmental safety – and to vindicate its knowledge through formal recognition of understanding. Using ISO 14001 as a baseline for tackling key issues such as the handling and disposal of hazardous waste allows a business to more readily meet its legal obligations.
It is also true that adopting ISO 14001 as the framework for handling environmental concerns brings its own reputational rewards. The incorporation of an international environmental standard into your business can create a vote of confidence from your industry, and will undoubtedly track well with clients and customers alike. Meeting corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives with ISO 14001 certification is a rock-solid way to maintain environmental commitments without running the risk of ‘greenwashing’.
Integrating Environmental Responsibility Locally
ISO 14001 is an extremely useful document for understanding core processes and step-by-steps within waste management and sustainable engineering. Its ancillary documents are vital for assisting in the roll-out of EMS frameworks within your business, too – however, these do not make certification a simple task.
This is where third party organisations become helpful; with regard to on-site hazard management, seeking help from spill protection specialists can help you achieve ISO 14001 certification swifter than if you didn’t solicit their services – to give but one example.
EMS structures are nothing short of indispensable for modern businesses seeking to keep up to date on the myriad laws, rules, regs and guides that constitute today’s environmental protection. ISO 14001 is a clever step in the right direction, and a step designed to lock businesses around the world into the same gait.