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3 smart reasons to get registered to ISO 14001 in 2016

There are various financing schemes available to Scottish businesses seeking to certify to ISO 14001. Here are 3 reasons to do so.

If you read the newspapers, you’ll appreciate how gravely the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) consider the contravening of environmental requirements within Scotland; clamping down with hefty fines on companies it judges to be neglectful of their social duties.

And every year, the Scottish Quality Management Centre (SQMC) receive increasing numbers of requests from clients seeking help to implement bullet-proof Environmental Management processes as either preventative measures, or to meet evolving supply-chain requirements.

The International Standard ISO 14001 is the tool to which most businesses turn to accomplish their environmental goals. Nowadays, organisations wishing to lessen their impact on the environment can usually take advantage of incentives and grants available through Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. Here are three smart reasons why you might like to join them:

1. Protect Earth’s environment and atmosphere

Let’s face it: there’s only so much land we can fill with our garbage. Alarmingly, The UN Environment Programme has estimated that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic – and that was almost a decade ago. It stated back in 2006 that 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are dying each year as a consequence of the plastic debris in their waters.  

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When your organisation becomes compliant with ISO 14001, it will actively reduce its waste. As a result, this more efficient approach to business could vastly reduce your overheads (more about that in a moment) by making better use of materials you already own, and enabling you to rely less on buying up natural resources.

Moreover, no one likes smog, and your organisation can become ‘nicer neighbours’ if you can cut down on your pollution levels. ISO 14001 encourages cleaner emissions, and streamlines the use of toxic materials.

2. Slicker business operations

Not only will your Environmental Management System (EMS) include useful metrics and procedures to control your emissions and waste contribution, but – if you already have other management systems in place, such as Quality, Safety or Energy – a well designed EMS will integrate with them coherently. Imagine having such a tool that presents you with a 360 degrees overview of your organisation’s operations, giving you early identification of potential problems to proactively avoid the occurrence of costly and harmful incidents.

The ISO 14000 ‘family’ of Standards define environmental best practice, enhancing continual improvement within your progressive organisation. Communication throughout all aspects of a company is made easier through common terminology, and this facilitates more informed decision-making from your managers.

Also, if you supply to customers overseas, you can rest assured that your ISO 14001 certification will be adequate across borders, thanks to its status as an International Standard. Your environmental commitment will be rewarded through the simplicity of having to comply with just one Standard; while submitting a well-written Environmental Manual can pay dividends by giving you extra leverage when tendering for contracts.

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3. Speculate and accumulate – the boon for your bottom line

Here’s the beauty of a certified EMS: you can gain so much, yet it can actually end up paying for itself. So I'll wrap up with a brief brainstorm of just some of the financial benefits for your organisation:

• With formal policies to re-purpose material or recycle, you’ll spend less buying in new stock.
• If you identify less toxic materials to purchase, whatever waste you do produce will cost less to dispose of.
• Working with less toxins is not only the right thing to do by your workforce (and good for morale), but will save you money on specialist training and equipment. It can even save you space if you can eliminate quarantine zones and storage areas.
• Working with hazardous materials is – by definition – a danger to your staff. Reducing your dependence on such materials in turn reduces risk. Occupational Health and Safety benefits will result from fewer compensation claims and a more productive workforce, who will be unhindered by the excessive record-keeping and OSHA reporting you may be making allowances for, today.
• The systematic approach to government legislative requirements can reduce remediation costs, fines and penalties - even lawsuits (to say nothing of the resulting hikes in insurance premiums).
• The marketing clout of being ‘green’ should never be underestimated. Whether or not you personally accept every ‘fact’ published relating to this emotive and ‘PC’ topic, the chances are many of your customers will. Therefore being certified can only improve your organisation’s reputation.
• Some environmentally-conscious end users may favour your product over a competitor’s if you have ‘ISO 14001’ registration emblazoned on your packaging.

Next steps

Find out more about EMS and draw up a road map to ISO 14001 registration with side-by-side assistance from an SQMC environmental specialist.

Consider, too, signing up for our newly-revised Internal Environmental Auditor course, which covers the clauses, requirements and application of the ISO 14001:2015 Standard in detail.