Should you implement an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System?

Environment globe-1

A management system is simply a structured framework to help you manage your people, processes and resources and, in the case of ISO 14001, your environmental impacts.

Every organization, whether public or private, large or small, in developed or emerging economies, has an effect on the environment and is affected by the environment in return.

There is a growing understanding that the profitability and prosperity of human development is contingent on preserving our natural capital, the resources upon which all human productivity depends.

Faced with depleting resources, increased energy bills and the evolving effects of climate change, the adept business must take responsibility for its impacts, and externally demonstrate environmental credentials.

Using a management system approach can help your business address these issues.

For example, your environmental management systems objectives may include:ISO 14001 Implementation Infographic

  • using resources more efficiently,
  • ensuring regulatory compliance,
  • controlling costs, or
  • finding new ways to operate without damaging the environment.

How to go about implementing ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

If you’ve been asked to manage a project to secure ISO 14001 Certification for your organization, there are basically three choices available to you …

  1. Hire an Consultant to oversee the entire project. This tends to be expensive and the organization, typically, doesn’t take ‘ownership’ of the EMS, which means that cooperation to implement on-going environmental changes and improvements are frequently resisted.
  3. Do it all yourself. If you are technically qualified and have management experience, there’s no reason why not.  You’re going to need some training to gain knowledge of the ISO 14001 Standard and its interpretation.  The difficulty is that this approach is often a long process taking years rather than months.  But if you have the time to invest, why not?
  5. Do most of it yourself. This would be our choice.  Choose from among recommended ISO 14001 consultants one who will fill in the gaps in your knowledge and skills. The benefits include:
    • Avoiding the ‘usual’ mistakes – profit from the consultant’s experience,
    • Getting the project finished relatively quickly,
    • At reasonable cost – your involvement helps ensure that every expense is justified and controlled,
    • With buy-in by the organization (it’s our project and not the consultant’s), a greater chance of on-going success, and
    • Having a high likelihood of achieving Certification at the first attempt.

 EMS Materials Usage Diagram.png


Why should we implement and maintain an EMS?

Here are five reasons not just for your information but also to provide you with some ‘ammunition’ with which to persuade top management and your colleagues that ISO 14001 Certification is a realistic and desirable proposition for your business.

  1. To be good citizens: In addition to being responsible in term of minimizing the impact of our organization, Certification demonstrates that responsibility to our staff, our customers, regulators and all stakeholders. An internet search will give you lots of reasons why ISO 14001 is good business.
  3. It’ll Save more than it Costs. A lot about an EMS has to do with eliminating energy use and waste of various kinds. And by eliminating them, you also eliminate the associated costs.  In addition, it is sometimes possible to sell your waste – paper and cardboard for recycling, for example.
  5. Not too difficult or costly to Implement. Even with consultancy support an implementation project will take 6 to 8 months to complete. It’s not enough to implement the system alone, you must also demonstrate that it is being maintained and some months of records are needed to so demonstrate. A typical budget would be £5,000 to £10,000.
  7. Not too time consuming or costly to maintain. An average of 1 – 2 days per month will maintain an EMS including the administration of the internal audit program. Certification auditing costs will vary with size but will work out on average at £2,000 to £5,000 per annum.
  9. We’ll score better in Supplier Audits. And score higher in pre-tendering and tendering processes. Having ISO 14001 Certification, as well as ISO 9001 Certification, gives significant scores in many public and private sector tendering processes. 

    It’s not uncommon for these certifications to account for 10% to 15% of the overall rating in a tendering process.  Your Marketing colleagues will know all about the benefits here. A recipe for winning more often, that’s for sure.


So, perhaps you’ll consider becoming ISO 14001 Certified.  Why not talk it over with your colleagues?  When you explain the benefits, you may have a new project to manage.

ISO 14001 Certification - it’s good for the environment, good for your business and its good for you.ISO 14001 Lead Implementer training

Note: First published in August 2017; reviewed and updated in March 2021.

Written by Dr John FitzGerald

Director and founder of deGRANDSON Global. After 15 years in the manufacturing industry, John has spent the past 25 years training, consulting and auditing ISO 9001 and other management systems.

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