One constant phrase that you may find across environmentally-conscious organizations is “ISO 14000 Certified.” You may have wondered…what does it mean? Is it important? How does an organization become certified? We’ll take a look at what exactly ISO 14000 means and why it’s so important to the sustainability of our planet.
What is it?
ISO is the International Organization of Standardization. They develop standards that are integrated into an organization’s system of production conduct. In the case of ISO 14000, the ISO created an Environmental Management System (EMS) to manage an organization’s environmental aspects, fulfill compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities in regards to environmental issues.
ISO 14000 is designed as a series of standards used to help organizations operate without negatively affecting the environment. These standards are written to adhere to international environmental regulations and laws. They’re updated every 7 years with the current edition being ISO 14001:2015; which is the most popular standard of the ISO 14000 collection. The latest edition uses mandatory definitions and incorporates common standard requirements and clauses.
For consumers, an ISO certification demonstrates that an organization is based around a set of fundamental quality management principles. In the case of ISO 14000 the company is showing a commitment to meeting environmental regulatory requirements to improve the environment both now and in the future. All ISO certified companies must maintain up to date documentation in order to maintain their certification standing. Having that assurance of service can provide some peace of mind and allow shoppers to feel good knowing their purchase helps that cause.
The first environmental management standard was published by the BSI group. The BSI group has a long-running history of creating industry standards that date back to 1903. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the organization created the first Environmental Industry Standard, titled BS 7750.
In 1996, the ISO created the ISO 14000 family of standards. It became the largest range of environmental protection standards ever created. First revised in 2004 the ISO 14000 line has quickly become standard for sustainability in any industry.
Why should I care?
There can be several benefits to becoming ISO 14000 certified and to buying ISO 14000 certified goods. Businesses are generally encouraged to improve and achieve environmental practice performance and reduce waste production. By controlling and managing waste and emissions, an ISO 14000 certified company will be adhering to a set of standards that help lessen the impact on the environment. This change will help to conserve important natural resources and for consumers, it’s an easy way to identify that a business has gone through the process of minimizing the carbon footprint of their products.
How to achieve ISO 14000 certification
If you’re a business owner, you may decide it’s worth transitioning your company to a more sustainable framework and now you want to know how to become certified. The first step would be to review the ISO 14000 family of certifications to see which would be the best fit for your organization. Get extremely familiar with its scope and process.
Next, you’ll want to ensure that you and your employees are trained on the ways to improve the organization’s Environmental Management System. You may also want to perform internal audits and self-assessments to evaluate if these changes will be effective. The final step is to get certified. Choose a third-party certification body that will come to assess your companies’ process for adherence to the ISO 14000 requirements.