INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS provide structured frameworks for organisations of all kinds to improve their performance, writes Martin Baxter, the executive director (policy)attheInstituteofEnvironmental Management and Assessment. From an environment and sustainability perspective, whether an organisation manufactures tanks, clothing or bread, it has the opportunity through the environmental management standard ISO 14001 to reduce its impact ontheenvironmentandimprovebusiness success.
The widespread use of ISO 14001 by businesses makes it the single biggest global voluntary initiative dedicated to improving environmental performance. More than 285,000 organisations worldwide – including those in the food and hospitality industries – are certified as meeting the standard’s requirements.
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) regularly reviews its standards to ensure they meet the needs of business and help improve performance. ISO 14001 is currently being reviewed so that it addresses future challenges and reflects some wider changes made to ISO’s frameworks.
The proposed changes, being developed by an international working group of which I’m the UK representative, will come into force in 2015. After that, every current and future user, irrespective of their industry, will have new requirements to work to and objectives to achieve.
So what’s changing? The new standard will have a greater focus on improving environmental performance across the whole value chain of an organisation – including environmental impacts associated with supply of ingredients, energy and distribution. Further key changes include the need to:
- take a whole life-cycle perspective to identify environmental impacts that and organisation can control and influence - suppliers, end-users and final disposal
- evaluate risks and opportunities in the context of changing environmental conditions, notably the climate
- ensure data an information on and organisation's environmental performance supports improvement
- be able to demonstrate compliance with environmental laws and regulations
The extensive supply chains which are typical in the foodservice and hospitality industries mean the new standard will present challenges, but also many opportunities to improve performance. Better environmental performance presents every organisation with the opportunity to save money on energy, resources and supplies.
Once finalised, the updated version of ISO 14001 will help all organisations to improve business and environmental performance and gain recognition for their achievements.