The International Organization for Standardization has created a set of voluntary standards that are globally recognized for reducing harmful effects on the environment. This toolset enables organizations to control and identify the impact of their processes, products, and services on the environment. The ISO 14001 certification, which was introduced in 1993, establishes the criteria for implementing an environmental management system (EMS). These standards are applicable to all organizations, and as a result, many firms now require their suppliers to obtain ISO 14001 certification to demonstrate their compliance. In 2020, over 300,000 certifications were awarded to companies in 171 countries. To learn more about ISO standards, simply expand each of the following sections.
The ISO 14000 standards are a set of guidelines for managing environmental compliance in a company. They cover every aspect of a company’s environmental operations and provide structure and systems to ensure compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements.
Benefits achieved through ISO 14001 certification include:
1. Reduction in waste
2. Decreases hazardous material and pollutants generated
3. Reductions in energy and other resource consumption
4. Better environment regulatory compliance for reduced liability and risk
5. Cost savings and reductions in insurance premiums
6. Improved public and community goodwill due to a corporate image of social responsibility
Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
Implementing an EMS based on ISO 14004 is a key factor in promoting sustainability across an organization’s supply chain. This approach requires top management commitment and should be integrated into the environmental policy. It is essential to document environment management manuals and provide training to employees and suppliers on their roles and responsibilities.
The following are some of the aspects of an EMS:
1. How the company will evaluate the environmental impact of its products and processes, including identifying the environmental risks of the business and its suppliers
2. How the company will monitor and measure its performance, such as putting processes in place to record resource and energy usage
3. Documenting the approach the organization will use to address any environmental issues or in the event of an environmental incident
4. Identify goals, steps and action plans that will be taken to improve its environmental performance in specific areas
Procurement has a crucial responsibility in the development of EMS due to their involvement with the materials used in processes and communication with suppliers. In cases where a company purchases or produces hazardous materials, procurement would be responsible for creating EMS guidelines for waste disposal services. This includes determining the qualifications of contractors based on local, state, and federal laws.
The ISO 20400:2017 guidelines offer guidance to companies on how to incorporate sustainability measures into all stages of the procurement process. These guidelines outline principles of sustainable procurement and provide strategies for fostering a culture of sustainability.
There is an international Social Responsibility standard that can be integrated with the GRI, known as ISO 26000:2010. This standard is designed to help organizations contribute to sustainable development beyond legal compliance, by providing a shared understanding of social responsibility. Additionally, it offers guidance on how these principles can be applied to an organization’s operations.