Environmental Standards: Which One Is Right For Your Organization?

Implementing an environmental management standard is becoming increasingly important as the United Nations included Climate Action as one of the goals to address some of the most pressing issues faced by the world. There are many International Standards that contribute to reaching the Climate Action goal, but the most notable is ISO 14001.

ISO 14001

ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) is one of ISO's most widely-used standards. It details practical tools for organizations to manage the impact of their activities on the environment. An Environmental Management System helps organizations identify, manage, monitor and control their environmental issues in a "holistic" manner.

ISO 14001 is part of the ISO 14000 family of standards. Other standards in the family focus on specific approaches such as audits, communications, labeling and life cycle analysis, as well as environmental challenges such as climate change. However, ISO 14001 is the only standard in the family which organizations can get certified to. Currently there are more than 300,000 certifications to ISO 14001 in 171 countries around the world.

There are many ways an organization can benefit from ISO 14001. The most common benefits are:

Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements.

Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees.

Improve company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic.

Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business.

Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs.

Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization's business systems.

Organizations can reap these benefits from using the standard without going through the certification process. However, ISO 14001 is one of the most well-known management standards. Certification to ISO 14001 – where an independent certification body audits your practices against the requirements of the standard – is a way of informing your buyers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you have implemented the standard properly and that you meet regulatory and contractual requirements.