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Business Set to Benefit from Radical Improvement to Global Environmental Standard



ISO 14001 is globally the second most used standard companies employ to manage their performance, with 171 countries now participating.  Recent BSI research into the economic benefits of business standards – including ISO 14001 – shows a net £8.2bn contribution to the UK economy.

In response to a perfect storm of global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, volatile energy markets and soaring population growth, the International standard for environmental management systems ISO14001 has been revised over the past three years in order to support businesses to manage these growing risks and take advantage of the business opportunities. The new standard has been developed to better align with business strategy and to support organisations becoming more resilient to external environmental change.  The new standard will require companies to:

– Put in place measures to proactively respond to growing environmental risks

– Ensure top management are accountable for environmental performance improvement

– Place greater emphasis on managing environmental impacts across the value chain

“The new standard significantly raises the bar on the expectations it sets for how organisations manage their environmental performance. With over 300,000 companies certified to ISO 14001 globally, this will deliver a step-change in business performance and deliver significant benefits to the environment. The standard shifts business focus on the environment from compliance with regulations and direct operations, to placing the environment at the heart of their thinking and strategy” said Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor and UK appointed expert to the ISO 14001 revision working group.

The standard has received widespread recognition and support from business – in a recent survey conducted by IEMA over 40% of businesses said the revised standard will bring greater buy in from senior management. Around 40% of businesses saved at least £10,000 per annum with some businesses saving over £5 million per annum as a result of using ISO 14001.  The majority of these savings were delivered through energy efficiency measures (71% of those surveyed) and improved waste management (64% of those surveyed). Wider benefits include improved environmental performance (38%), meeting legislative requirements (39%), enhancing stakeholder relations, and generating new business opportunities (22%).

Nigel Marsh, Global Head of Environment, Rolls-Royce plc: “The revised ISO 14001 standard is a significant milestone in ensuring that the environment and sustainability are acknowledged as being amongst the most important issues facing businesses around the globe. The revisions to ISO 14001 highlight the vital role that senior management can play to ensure that their companies have a clear strategic approach to the environment and maximise the opportunities for their business.”

David Fatscher, Head of Market Development for Sustainability at BSI: “ISO 14001 puts environmental management at the heart of organisations’ operations. It enables them to meet environmental requirements, improve efficiency and environmental performance and is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful without compromising their environmental responsibilities. This is a framework for organisations to develop whilst reducing the environmental impact of growth, enabling users to reduce waste, save energy, increase innovation and improve corporate reputation among investors, customers and the public.”