Sep 24, 2017

Implementing ISO 14001 in a small business

When we hear about environmental concerns, whether negative or positive, we tend to associate them with large, multinational corporations, and how these companies affect the environment. ISO 14001 accreditation is obviously highly beneficial to big corporations who want to enhance their environmental performance and show the public and stakeholders that they are serious about their responsibilities regarding preserving the environment for generations to come.

It should therefore not come as a surprise that companies like IBM took the lead in becoming accredited to ISO 14001 in the 1990s. There are however also real benefits for smaller companies to invest the money needed to obtain ISO 14001 accreditation.

According to a US Census Bureau survey done in 2011, companies having less than 20 employees made up close to 90% of the number of businesses trading in the U.S. This figure is almost the same in the UK, and probably the rest of the world.

Our Environmental Responsibility

We all have a duty to use the earth’s resources in the best possible way, and should also preserve what we can for future generations by making diligent decisions. One of the ways to achieve this is to identify environmental aspects and writing environmental targets for your organization. Although there are obvious environmental benefits when we make improvements using the “Plan, Do, Check, Act,” cycle, there are also benefits in how your suppliers and customers will perceive you.

Small business benefits

A small business could easily improve their environmental performance and become ISO 14001 accredited in the same way as what a bigger business would. The question is whether or not the benefits would be worthwhile. The benefits realized by a small business could, in fact, be more significant than those for a bigger corporation where it is expected that they be aware of environmental issues. In fact, getting accredited to ISO 14001 might help the business grow beyond the small business category.

If you know a bit about the ISO 14001 standard, or any other ISO standard for that matter, you’ll have realized that it is written in such a way that there is no differentiation between different sized organizations. This means that the implementation of ISO 14001 is scalable and can be done whether 5 or 5000 people are employed, providing that the key parts of the standard are executed correctly.

Your ability to win a new contract that will allow you to move forward will be greatly enhanced if you can show environmental awareness and have implemented the processes to assist in measuring, monitoring, and continually improving. When dealing with government sectors where the public’s money is used, environmental considerations are even more important and will continue to be so in years to come.

The Six key benefits of ISO 14001 discussed elsewhere are the same for any size organization, whether you are a small business or a large corporation. Eliminating waste from processes, saving money on consumables, packaging and energy, all improve the bottom line and also preserve materials for the future. When the financial benefits are added to the reputational benefits, your small business may just get the boost it needs to improve and expand.

How to go about it

You can have your own management review and write your own environmental targets. Once this is done, you can start to measure, monitor, and build continual improvement into your performance and processes. The sooner you start with this, the sooner you will be able to think and perform like the large company you would one day like it to become. The benefits of doing will be shared by you, your stakeholders, and the planet. Once you have learnt how to implement an ISO 14001 system, the management principles involved can be applied to all aspects of your business, and not only to environmental issues.

Small businesses typically don’t have Quality Managers or people with experience in implementing ISO 14001 or another ISO standard. It is also unlikely that you will have the funds to use a consultant or an external organization to guide you through the process, which can take as much as six months to be implemented. You will, however, be able to almost everything by yourself, getting some help in specific areas. Our blog articles will provide lots of background on what is required, and be buying, reading and understanding the actual ISO 14001 standard is critical.

ISO 9001 quality management systems (QMS) are implemented using MyEasyISO software in Manila (Philippines ), while ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 Health Safety Management Systems (HSE) are implemented with MyEasyISO in Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).

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