There is a misconception out there that being green is a waste of time; it’s a mere marketing ploy, which simply costs money and wastes time without any real results. Similarly, the environmental management standard ISO 14001 has its naysayers, declaring it too bureaucratic and only relevant for ‘big’ businesses.
In this article, we take a look at research to demonstrate that adopting the ISO 14001 green standard makes business sense, even to the Scrooge within all of us!
The ghost of Christmas past
As the green movement gained momentum, there have been those keen to take advantage of the marketing benefit of being seen as ‘green’. This has led to the much maligned ‘greenwashing’, where companies are shouting about being environmentally friendly without substantiating their claims with evidence.
An answer to this was gaining third-party certification to an environmental standard, the best known being ISO 14001. It shares commonality with the well established ISO 9001 quality management standard, both of them being based around the creation of a Management System. With roots as far back as the ‘60s, ISO 9001 began life as a British military standard before evolving into a tool used by business and industry worldwide. As it developed, it grew ever bigger, before gaining the more familiar title of ISO 9000:1987. Up until this point, it was fair to say that this version of the standard was pretty hard work, requiring a huge amount of documentation.
The plethora of information required came to an end with the year 2000 revision of the standard, which became much more simplified and easier to work with, cutting down on the amount of processes and procedures required. However, the damage was already done and some simply weren’t willing to believe the standard could have changed for the better. This reputational damage has somewhat rubbed off on ISO 14001 too, despite it only being in existence since 1996.
In this part of the story, Ebenezer found out he lost his fiancée to another man due to him putting off marriage until he had enough money saved; an ever moving target that may be familiar to those thinking they must consider green initiatives “one day”, just not today! The reality is, putting it off is counter-productive. Read on to find out why…
The ghost of Christmas present
Research has shown the trend towards going green hasn’t abated. In fact, the movement has gathered pace. The reality is environmental impact is still on government agendas, energy resources are still a global problem, with prices volatile. An Edelmen study looked at public perception recently and found that 73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause.
As government puts pressure on big businesses to meet environmental targets, there has been a considerable knock-on effect for the supply chain too. More than ever then, there is a strong business case for being green. Whether it is reducing energy costs, meeting regulatory requirements, being competitive when tendering, or demonstrating to customers you are minimising your environmental impact, there is a compelling argument for any organisation.
Meanwhile, ISO 14001 has grown to become the internationally recognised standard for environmental management. Not only is it helping organisations of all sizes and from all sectors become greener, implementation of an Environmental Management System has also been linked to growth. Last year’s Sunday Times Green List showed that 87% of the best green organisations chose to adopt ISO 14001 to meet their environmental goals.
The ghost of Christmas yet to come
So what does the future hold? Businesses are increasingly realising that environmental, sustainability and corporate responsibility shouldn’t simply be adopted as an ‘add-on’; those are becoming interwoven into fabric of the organisation. Being green is simply a by-product of what they do. They’re doing it because being green makes sound business sense; it’s good for employees, clients, the world around us, and the bottom line.
In the famous Christmas story, Ebenezer learnt that, due to his solitary life and disdain to help those in need, he would die a lonely death. Desperate avoid such a miserable end, he begged for the opportunity to change his ways. For those organisations who haven’t yet taken steps to consider their environmental impact, now is the time to embrace the green movement before you are left behind. We’ve introduced some of the main benefits, but there are numerous other advantages, not least the greater staff morale, motivation and productivity garnered when implementing green practices. To get started, visit our dedicated page for those keen to take the first steps towards running a sustainable organisation.
About the author
Rob Fenn works at the British Assessment Bureau, a UK based Certification Body that specialises in environmental management standards. Whilst interested in all matters ‘green’, Rob particularly enjoys the challenge of helping smaller organisations realise the business benefits of sustainability and environmental responsibility, becoming a noted speaker and expert contributor in environmental management.
DIY ISO 14001
The do-it-yourself manual, with steps to success and simple explanatory notes, designed for real companies. ISO 14001 Environmental Certification Step by Step has been written with smaller companies especially in mind. Dr. A.J. Edwards explains how to achieve the ISO 14001 standard aided by resources freely available from the accompanying website, including a sample manual and detailed sample registers and procedures. ISO 14001 Environmental Certification Step by Step: Revised Edition
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