6 Key Benefits of ISO 14001

Why should you implement ISO 14001 in your organization? If you are new to environmental management, you will probably hear this question more than once from many people in your company. Apart from the obvious benefit to improving the environment, everyone from top management to the worker on the floor will want to know why this is important for your company, and helping these people understand can be the difference between an easy and successful implementation and a difficult and disastrous one. Not all of the benefits mean the same thing to everyone at your company, but here are just a few of the benefits you can discuss.

1) Improve your image and credibility

If your contracts or tenders require an ISO 14001 certification, then this is an obvious benefit. But, even if it is not a formal requirement, very often your customers, neighbors, and the local community will be interested in how you care for the environment around you. Increasingly, consumers are concerned about the environmental practices of the companies that produce the products they use. One way to assure all of these people that you are committed to managing your environmental impacts is to have a demonstrable environmental management system to identify and control these impacts. This can enhance your image, help you maintain a good public image, and improve community relations – which can help improve your market share with these interested parties.

2) Help you comply with legal requirements

One of the most important benefits that can be derived from implementing ISO 14001 is to provide you with a framework for identifying, monitoring and complying with the various environmental requirements that apply to your processes. Of course you try to follow all applicable laws before implementing an environmental management system, but the system itself can aid in maintaining your compliance. Additionally, implementation will tell people that you care about the environment, and have a proven framework for identifying and complying with the various legal, regulatory and contractual requirements, thus boosting your image and credibility as above.

3) Improvement in cost control

All companies want to reduce costs – this is a fact of life in today’s world economy – but you may wonder how an environmental management system can help with cost control. The first way that this can happen is by using your system to identify, control, and reduce the number of environmental incidents that occur, which can cost your company through liability costs of fines, cleanup, and reparations. Secondly, you can use the improvement aspect of the environmental management system to help reduce costs by working to conserve the energy and input materials required by your company processes.

4) Higher rate of success when implementing changes

When you are trying to make the improvements outlined above, it is important to ensure you are working with good, accurate data, which is a key element of the ISO 14001 standard. When putting these improvement activities in place, you can greatly increase the chances that you will be successful the first time by tracking the improvement through good data collection – and even if the initiative goes off track, you will find this out sooner so that you can correct problems and recover faster. This can save further time and money.

5) Enable quicker improvement of processes

The element of continual improvement that is integral to the ISO 14001 requirements can be used to help your organization to move from small improvements toward greater enhancements to your organizational processes. Through these systematic processes, you can better build your public image and reduce your costs as identified above, but to continue to do this can help your employees find new and better ways to reduce your environmental impact and save time and resources when they improve the processes. When people are involved in a culture that utilizes them to work toward common goals of improvement, they are more engaged overall.

6) Reduce employee turnover

As just stated, employees who are involved in company improvements are more engaged in other aspects of the company. Given a choice between working for a company that shows care and concern for the environment around it and one that does not, most people would prefer the first company. Engaged employees in a group effort to reduce the company’s environmental footprint will often have an increased employee focus and retention, and it is easier and less expensive to retain employees than it is to recruit and train new employees. So, every dollar spent on helping employees become more engaged is worth more in savings for the training and recruitment department.

Of course, the main reason to implement an environmental management system using the ISO 14001 requirements is to help the environment by causing less of a negative impact and reducing your environmental footprint. While this remains true, some companies can still find it difficult to defend the monetary expenditures required to implement change. It can be easier to justify the cost of making these improvements by focusing on these other benefits that can go beyond the simple ideals of environmental stewardship and focus more on the long-term advantages of implementing an environmental management system.

Mark Hammar

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