ISO 14001: Certify that your company is environmentally responsible
Read time: 5 minutes
As people become more concerned with the environmental impacts of the products and services they’re purchasing, it’s an advantage for businesses to prove they are environmentally responsible.
One way to demonstrate this is by achieving ISO 14001 certification, an international certification which shows that a business has met global standards when it comes to the environmental practices.
The ISO 14001 designation sets a company apart from the competition.
Many advantages to ISO 14001 certification
“It’s a competitive advantage,” says Rowda Mohamud, Senior Business Advisor with BDC Advisory Services in Toronto.
“This is an independent international standard, so companies can say, ‘Look, meeting ISO 14001 standards shows that we have an active commitment to environmental performance.’ They’re very practical and pragmatic standards, and they cover pretty well every aspect of a company’s operations, and how you’re going to manage environmental impacts in a responsible way,” Mohamud explains.
She says ISO 14001 is a framework that looks at the environmental impacts of a business, including:
- how many facilities you have
- what industry you are in
- whether you measure air emissions
- what processes you have for identifying, monitoring and controlling emissions
- the training you provide
- your plans to reduce or even eliminate emissions
“It helps you to figure out measurements to mitigate some of those environmental impacts, whether they’re wastewater, hazardous material storage and handling, or air emissions.”
Mohamud adds that there are immediate short-term benefits for businesses with ISO 14001 as well, such as reduced waste and improved productivity.
A key tool to expand internationally
Obtaining ISO 14001 certification is a voluntary process, and Mohamud estimates that fewer than 20% of Canadian companies now have such a designation. She says they’re often companies that are conscious of climate change because of the leadership team.
Mohamud says firms find the ISO 14001 designation essential to landing government or international contracts.
“When companies are bidding on tenders, especially with government agencies, there are often requirements to meet ISO 14001. The designation sets a company apart from the competition,” she says.
“When a client is exporting beyond the U.S. or Mexico, buyers want to be assured of environmental standards. I would say about 90% of the companies that we at BDC help with any of the ISO standards are internationally minded, and are looking at going into the European Union, Australia, or Japan. International markets place much more emphasis on these standards as a way of evaluating a company’s environmental responsibility,” she adds.
Mohamud says a lack of ISO 14001 for international markets “can be a significant obstacle to growth.”
ISO 14001 is the quickest way to answer all the questions about being environmentally responsible.
Meet client demand
The greatest motivating factor in a firm’s decision to meet ISO 14001 certification is a client who wants to deal with an environmentally responsible company.
“Sometimes a company may not be asked if they are ISO 14001 compliant, but they’ll be asked for things that can only be put in place by meeting ISO 14001 standards,” Mohamud says.
“We had a client reach out to us and say, ‘a client asked us about our environmental performance, so we would like to do what’s necessary to be ISO 14001 compliant.’ We helped them look at things like the environmental impact of their products, where their materials are sourced, how efficient the plant operates, and even how their plant is laid out,” Mohamud recalls.
“ISO 14001 is the quickest way to answer all the questions about being environmentally responsible.”
With an increasing emphasis on environmental issues, Mohamud says it’s likely there will be more demand in the future for companies to show that they are environmentally responsible.
“As our government starts to roll out tougher standards and move into a de-carbonized economy, meeting these ISO 14001 standards will give companies a leg up on the competition.”