What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14000 is the environmental management standard published and maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 14000 was designed to help organizations minimise the harm they do to the environment, comply with international environmental law and commit to continually improving upon these processes.
ISO 14001 is specifically concerned with helping companies to develop a framework within which they can implement their own environmental management system.
The benefits of ISO 14001
Used by nearly quarter of a million organizations across the globe, ISO 14001 was developed from a framework set of environmental management standards produced at the first Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil in 1992. The standard has gone on to become widely admired and respected. It has undoubtedly helped to protect the environment where implemented.
If your company invests in ISO 14001 accreditation, you are showing your staff, customers and the wider business community that you are not only committed to protecting the environment in the short term, but you are also willing to work within the guidelines of international environmental law in future.
As such, our clients report that adopting the ISO 14001 standard has benefits to their business in terms of both enhancing their financial situation by reducing waste and energy costs, and helping them to streamline their daily operations where environmental issues are concerned. On every level, customers and staff respond very favourably to ISO 14001 certification.
Elements of the ISO 14001 standard
Based on the "Plan, Do, Check, Act" management methodology, the ISO 14001 standard is made up of the following elements:
- Plan: establish the objectives and processes required
- Do: implement the processes
- Check: measure and monitor the processes and report the results
- Act: take action to improve performance based on these results
The process above can be further broken down into stages, which cover these broad areas:
- Environmental policy
- Environmental planning
- Implementation and operation
- Checking and corrective action
- Management review
Organizations striving to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation must also adhere to a continual improvement process, so the adopted systems can be constantly updated to meet future environmental challenges.
Achieving ISO 14001 certification
ISO 14001 certification must be carried out by a qualified third party, not by the ISO itself. In Britain, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) must accredit the assessment organization, or the certification you achieve could be worthless.
However, some third parties may offer you unaccredited certification - or even ISO 14001 certification accredited by organizations other than UKAS. These services sometimes offer 'fast track' certification at very competitive prices. Choosing this route is not advisable as the accreditation you achieve may not be acceptable to your customers.