What are the benefits of ISO14001 certification?
So we are committed to the environment but why do we need Environmental Certification?
The first, and probably most important benefit is that an EMS just might keep you out of gaol. In the event of an unforeseen environmental incident leading to a breach of an environmental law, your effectively functioning certified EMS may be a defence of due diligence under most jurisdictions in Australia.
Another benefit, if your organisation is highly visible and under a high level of community scrutiny, is that an Environmental Management System to ISO14000 leads the organisation to understand what they should be communicating to whom, and assists in identifying the important issues, gathering the appropriate data and communicating relevant information to both the community and regulator.
Then there are the practical improvement and efficiency gains of a structured management system, such as:
- Reducing costs by reducing waste and associated disposal costs
- Reducing energy use and hence cost of running the business
- Increased competitiveness in the marketplace being able to differentiate from some of your competitors. Government departments are increasingly looking for certified management systems as a prerequisite for tenders.
- Reduced cost from minimising incidents and associated rectification costs;
- Improved corporate image among regulators, customers and the public;
- Capturing institutional knowledge by properly documenting, retaining and communicating environmental related information;
- The potential for surprises is minimised through a regular and systematic review of environmental performance;
- Reduced costs from savings operational efficiency and, if relevant, reduction in use of hazardous materials and generation of hazardous wastes;
- Effective and efficient communication about environmental issues inside and outside the organization; and
- Highlighting that environmental performance is an important part of the corporate culture and improved community perception.
A study of four case histories has shown significant economic benefits have accrued by having an effective environmental management system to ISO14001:
- One company avoided a $70,000 fine because it could demonstrate to the regulator (through it certified EMS) that their systems and processes ensured they had taken all necessary precautions, and their corrective action processes would minimise future occurrences;
- Another company reduced its recycling rate by more than 95%, reduced or replaced packaging, introduce lead-free soldering and eliminated halogen from one of its manufacturing process;
- A walk-through programme initiated under another company’s environmental management system identified ultimate savings of 40% on water treatment costs and has led to an energy monitoring system that has the potential to deliver a savings of over 10% on their substantial energy bill.
- The implementation of an environmental management system for another company identified a 61% saving of electricity during non-operational times and they now sell a waste that was previously sent to landfill.
In addition to the readily measurable benefits, intangible benefits from improved business efficiency accrue simply because there are clearly defined process and procedures and roles and responsibilities: employees know what to do when, by whom and how to do it properly.
If your company has an existing quality management system to ISO9001:2015 or a safety management system to AS/NZS 4801:2001, the logical extension to environmental management is easy. The similarity of ISO14001:2015 with the other Standards means that typical ‘system’ elements (such as document and records management, management review and internal audit) already implemented will meet the requirements of the environmental management system, thus providing further efficiency and operational dividends.
However, one of the biggest benefits of developing and effectively implementing an environmental management system is the benefit to the environment – through reduced pollution, improved efficiencies, reduced waste and improved overall awareness.