In a highly competitive scenario, companies struggle to stand out in various fields, and the environmental issue is increasingly persistent. Responsible management of planet Earth, the provision of services and the development of “green” products have also become differentiating elements. However, how to demonstrate, objectively and consistently, that things are well done in environmental matters? To help them comply, there are international standards such as ISO standards, which facilitate the agreement with the different requirements. And in environmental matters, there is the series of ISO 14000 standards, which regulate everything related to Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
A little history
As a result of the need to establish levels of homogeneity, the International Organization for Standardization emerged in 1947. With 67 technical committees or expert groups focused on specific topics, today it has one member per country and 166 members worldwide.
Looking for an acronym that was the same in all languages, its founders were inspired by the Greek concept “isos”, which means equal and which led to the world-renowned acronym ISO.
ISO itself states that “when things don’t work as they should, it often means that standards are absent.” It is under this logic that the organization asked itself: “what is the best way to do something?”
From that question, he went from standardizing weights and measures to creating more than 24,000 international standards that cover almost every aspect of technology and manufacturing, that regulate things as diverse as the clothes we wear or the food we eat to the Wi-Fi networks that connect the world.
This also generates benefits such as:
- Consumer confidence in relation to the quality, safety and reliability of the products they use or purchase.
- Helps regulators and authorities to have identical standards, which implies the development of better regulations, developed on the experience of experts worldwide.
A standard for every need
ISO develops voluntary, consensual and market-relevant international standards, supporting innovation and offering concrete solutions to global challenges in various areas, such as health and safety, quality management, energy, food safety, information technology security (IT) and environmental management.
Precisely on the latter, ISO has created standards whose objective is to help companies reduce their environmental impact, reduce waste and be more sustainable. This is the ISO 14000 family, offering practical tools to manage environmental responsibilities.
Focus on environmental protection
Known as Environmental Management Systems (EMS), this standard allows companies to follow guidelines for the management of environmental risks that may arise from their activity, demonstrating their responsibility and commitment to protecting the environment.
Within the 14000 family, the ISO 14001 standard creates the conditions for the management and workers of a company to establish an effective environmental management system in terms of measurement and continuous improvement of the environmental impact it causes. Through the management and identification of environmental risks that may be generated as a result of the company’s own activity, it is possible to consistently advance in issues related to risk prevention and environmental protection.
According to data from the organization itself, there are more than 300,000 ISO 14001 certifications in 171 countries around the world, which provide requirements with guidance for their use that are related to environmental systems. Other standards in this family focus on specific aspects such as audits, communications, labeling and life cycle analysis, as well as environmental challenges such as climate change.
With international standards on air, water and soil quality, gas and radiation emissions and the environmental aspects of products, ISO standards related to the environment help to protect the planet and people, in addition to offering economic benefits associated with this cause.
Currently, the trend in the business world points to a balance between obtaining dividends and concern for the environment. From this perspective, the challenges imposed by compliance with ISO standards are rewarded by the recognition of the application of the most demanding practices in the matter, despite the difficulty of the alteration of frequent procedures and, even, of factors of the organizational culture of the company.
The implementation of ISO 14001 and EMS standards are invaluable assets today. First, because they generate trust among those who interact with the company – clients, suppliers and society in general – and second, because having an ISO certification generates a dynamic that will be reflected in economic benefits associated with standardized and recognized practices worldwide in environmental matters.
What is the contribution of the ISO 14001 standard?
- Reflects a genuine environmental commitment – As there is a standard that requires compliance with various guidelines when managing and organizing each aspect of the operation of the company, facilitating work and meeting objectives related to commitment to the environment in all levels of the production chain.
- Increased business reputation – If a company obtains ISO certification, it effectively demonstrates that it complies with environmental standards, which gives it a competitive advantage over its competition.
- Improved business performance – As a consequence of following the provisions of the ISO 14001 standard, there is a reduction of the possibility of the company being exposed to harmful gas emissions, spillage of toxic substances, use of products not suitable for human consumption, among others. And by avoiding this type of risk, the company does not have to allocate resources to pay fines or other types of sanctions derived from non-compliance with the rules or laws of the countries where it operates or other similar situations.
With the deployment of technology, today it is much simpler to incorporate ISO standards in environmental matters. Through a mobile device, a worker can collect data or apply some type of checklist made according to specific requirements for each company and case, which allow adequate management in terms of complying with standards and responding to the challenge of working in accordance with the preservation of the environment.
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