The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, is responsible for ISO 14000. This is a series of environmental management standards that have been developed by ISO for organizations around the world. Within the ISO 14000 series, the ISO 14001:2004 is perhaps the most important one as it breaks down the rules and requirements that small and large organizations alike need to comply with in order to have a recognized environmental management system, or EMS. An EMS is a set of practices that will allow for an organization to reduce its negative environmental impact while increasing its operating efficiency. Through a systematic approach, the ISO 14001 standard helps a company achieve its environmental goals with the Plan-Check-Do-Review-Improve cycle.
Here is a breakdown of the cycle. The Plan cycle supports new companies that are wishing to become ISO 14001 compliant. The cycle helps prepare the company in these beginning stages. The Check cycle focuses on understanding past errors and looking at areas of improvement. This cycle supports companies with ways to correct errors. The Do cycle is the key to the operation. In the Do cycle, companies implement new operation and management systems that will allow the organization to become ISO 14001 compliant. The Review cycle cannot occur until the Do cycle is complete. During the Review cycle, the entire Do process is reviewed by the organization’s top management. The Improve cycle should be never ending as the organization should always be looking for new ways to improve their environmental management system.
Becoming ISO 14001 compliant is important for many reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that when an organization meets ISO 14001 standards, it means that the company is a future focused organization that is committed to help improve the environment. There are of course added benefits as well. For example, an organization will usually see savings in recycling, waste and consumption; it can reduce insurance costs; and it can be an added advantage over competitors.
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