The origins of ISO14000 for green businesses

The ISO14000 series of standards for environmental management was the result of a global commitment to reducing the impact industry has on the environment.

The origins of iso14000 for green businesses

The ISO14000 series of standards for environmental management was the result of a global commitment to reducing the impact industry has on the environment.

What is ISO14000?

 ISO14000 is a series of environmental standards (environmental management systems) that help businesses to become greener.  They achieve this by:

  • Minimising the environmental impact of operations
  • Complying with environmental laws and regulations
  • Continually evaluating and improving environmental performance

ISO14000 certification:

An ISO14000 is certified by a third-party company and not from ISO directly.  There are many businesses in the UK that specialise in certifying ISO14000’s including The British Assessment Bureau.


The decision whether to implement an ISO14000 is completely voluntary.  However, it is recommended because of the range of benefits it can bring to a business.

ISO14000 benefits:

There are many benefits of implementing an iso14000 for business.  It will reduce costs by increasing overall efficiency.  Other benefits include:

  • Reduced pollution
  • Fewer operating costs
  • Conserved natural resources
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Great marketing tool
  • Satisfied investors
  • Reduced liability and risk


How ISO14000 was developed:


In 1992 there was an ‘Earth Summit’ held in Rio-de-Janeiro.  It was here that a global commitment to the environment was decided.  There had been a big growth in national and regional environmental standards.  In the UK we had the BS 7750.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) assessed the need for a universal set of international standards.


ISO formed the Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE) to assess whether universal standards were needed.  They looked at whether the standard would:

  • Promote a common approach to environmental management
  • Enhance a business’ ability to improve and measure their environmental performance
  • Help trade and remove trade barriers

It only took a year for SAGE’s recommendation to create an ISO committee (TC 207) for international environmental standards.

TC 207:

The TC 207 committee was made up of representatives from industry, government and environmental organisations from around the world.  In 1996 the ISO14000 standards were first published.

They were designed to cover:

  • Environmental management systems
  • Environmental auditing
  • Environmental performance evaluation
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Environmental aspects in product standards


Why universal standards were needed:

Before ISO14000 standards were published many businesses would develop their own environmental management systems.  However, this was a problem for comparing the effectiveness of each business.  A universal series of standards puts all businesses on the same level.

For more information on environmental management systems, their benefits, planning, staff training and more head over to our EMS page.

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