ISO 14001 Support Value Creation in Business

Background

There is growing recognition that the natural environmental will limit or constrain the ability of businesses to create value in the future – environmental management is a strategic business issue. Climate change; growing demand for resources such as energy, water and other materials; biodiversity loss - all highlight a pressing need to reduce impacts on the environment. The predicted growth in world population between now and 2050 will also lead to increased pressure on the natural environment.

An environmental management system (EMS) is a framework that organisations can use to manage their impact on the environment and improve environmental performance. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published a specification “ISO 14001: 2015 Environmental Management Systems – requirements with guidance for use” that describes the essential elements of an EMS. ISO 14001 is used by over 300,000 organisations worldwide to support effective environmental management and can be used to support companies in addressing strategic business issues relating to the environment.

Business Strategy – the Importance of Environmental Management

There are sound business reasons why organisations should take a strategic approach to environmental management and improving their environmental performance. It is prerequisite for top management to recognise that Environmental Management is an indispensable element in an overall business management in today’s business environment, i.e.  the global trends towards a low carbon & resource efficient economy which will pose various risks & opportunities for business strategy

Environmental Risk Management is identified as one of the principles of environmental responsibility in ISO SR (ISO 26000) and it will also inevitably be realized in overall risk management process of an organization. Environmental risks include regulatory, physical and market/reputational risk. Environmental risk management is becoming more and more vital for the sustained success of business today. The ISO 14001 EMS standard includes language that looks beyond compliance by addressing all environmental aspects regardless of whether they are regulated or not. This means that ISO 14001 is the right tool for environmental risk management.

Financial Savings are achieved through more efficient use of resources, minimizing scrap and waste from operations and by recycling as much of these as was possible. By using EMS organization can also found new ways to improve the operational efficiency of existing production processes.

Reputation is important to all kind of organization, especially in environmental issue. Awareness of environmental problems is growing in society, consumers are requiring organisations to demonstrate compliance and good practice in environmental matters. Organizations implementing cleaner production and greener products/services are gaining more support from consumers and communities.  Thus in current market, corporate image and brand is highly influenced by the level of their environmental management and an EMS makes a big difference.

New business opportunities are always in interest of organizations. A solution to mitigate the environmental problems will be welcomed by society, customers and consumers.  The organization which found out an innovative solution will be able to market it.   An early response to environmental problem will open the door for the organization to get a competitive advantage.  To be successful, an organization should have the enough knowledge on the environmental problem itself, then its solutions. Through the operation of EMS and its continual improvement process,  an organization will be able to accumulate  the necessary knowledge, which will form the basis for environmental related new business opportunity.

Many organisations view their impact on the environment as being those associated with their direct operational footprint – including for example the on-site use of resources, discharges to air and water, energy consumption and compliance with environmental regulations. However, a more strategic approach to environmental management looks across the whole value chain, including: supply chains, operations and logistics, design and development of products and/or services, use of products/ services by customers and consumers, end-use of product/ service and potential disposal/ recovery. This is more common called as life-cycle thinking

The strategic benefits of EMS fall into many different categories. What they all have in common is that they are brought about by greater employee awareness and commitment.  Those are the primary agents for change that are established and nurtured by an ISO 14001 EMS.  An EMS is, therefore, more than a new technique to manage waste or avoid spills and contamination.  It is more than just a new discipline to maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.  While it can certainly address those tasks, it is foremost a framework for organizational change.  It releases the environmental focus from its traditional, staff-dominated, narrow, legalistic boundaries to the open-ended operational, pragmatic and energetic domain of line functions with direct employee intervention and action.  It channels the energies and creativity of all members of the organization and makes each an active agent for environmental protection, resource conservation and improved efficiencies.  An ISO 14001 EMS helps to define the path for bringing this about.  The focus includes the traditional concerns for waste minimization, pollution avoidance and compliance, but is also likely to lead to operational improvements, resource substitution, product stewardship, and eventually to business strategies that can result in sustainable development for the enterprise and for society at large.