Is ISO 14000 Worth It?

ISO 14000 is the international standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). The environmentally responsible companion to the ISO 9000 standards for Quality Management Systems, it’s starting to get the attention of a few forward-thinking companies. But is it worth it? In other words, will it pay off, or should you just go lean?

In looking for the answer, I stumbled upon a recent Practix from CAPS Research on ISO 14000 at Veris Industries. The Practix provides a fairly detailed case study of the implementation and concludes with the following results:

  • The ISO 14000 process created a safer internal environment.
  • The identified recycling and re-use initiatives increased the recovery rate from 50% to 85% which reduced the cost of garbage hauling by 66%.
  • No price reductions resulted but Veritas believes it was a factor in keeping costs down over the last five years.
  • Natural Gas & Electricity consumption per manufacturing unit has declined.
  • On-time delivery has risen from mid-to-high 80’s to low-to-mid 90’s.

Not bad, but not great either. In other words, you can easily get the same results from a good lean initiative that focuses on waste reduction. I guess at this point, it comes down to whether or not you want something to hang on the flagpole. (And even if you do, I’d do the lean initiative first, because then it’s just a matter of documenting the processes, getting the audit, and paying for the certification.)

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