No one can deny the increasing impact of human activities on our environment. Our society is ever more preoccupied and occupied on the many issues affecting our environment today, such as pollution, over-consumption of resources, degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity, and an increasing world population that demands resources in the amount and quality that will ensure a decent and fulfilling life.
Organizations everywhere have implemented environmental management systems (EMS) to ensure compliance with an increasingly stringent legislation, control the impacts of their activities, products or services, and increase sound environmental performance.
Implementing and conforming to an EMS based on the ISO 14001 standard not only shows that an organization is environmentally responsible, but it also brings numerous benefits within the organization by:
- Identifying cost savings with greater emphasis on resources, waste and energy management.
- Quantifying, monitoring and controlling the impact of operations on the environment, now and in the future.
- Increasing profits through potential process improvements and energy conservation.
- Reducing costs as a result of potentially lower insurance rates.
- Verifying your systems for recognizing and complying with environmental laws and regulations.
- Improve environmental performance of supply chain.
- Ensuring that information is properly documented, communicated and retained.
- Increasing employee awareness and participation by making it clear that environmental performance is an important part of the organization’s culture
- Improving management of environmental risks and emergency preparedness and response procedures.
Other benefits of ISO 14001 come from how the organization is seen from outside by interested parties, some of these are:
- Improved corporate image among business partners, regulatory agencies, and community by showing that the organization is environmentally responsible.
- Improved relationships with government regulatory agencies; organizations that have implemented ISO 14001 find that regulators are quicker to provide technical support, and find that the regulators are much more supportive in general.
- Advantage over competitors when tendering for business.
- Grow access to business partners and potential customers.
ISO 14001 provides organizations with knowledge, tools and techniques to build success over the long term and create new opportunities for development and growth. These tools can be aligned with an organization’s priorities, strategy and decision-making by integrating them with other business requirements and embedding environmental governance into its overall management system, thereby achieving both environmental and economic goals.
The market is driving organizations to demonstrate their success in protecting our environment; more and more people want to be environmentally responsible and they are doing so by choosing products and services that have been designed, produced, developed and delivered in an environmentally friendly way. Therefore, in the near future, ISO 14001 will become a prerequisite for doing business worldwide.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.