Firms in danger of falling short as upgrade to International Standard for environmental management looms

Published:  03 October, 2014

In 2015 the chief standard required by public sector and large corporate procurers (14001) will be upgraded, significantly changing the way firms will have to view and apply their Environmental Management System (EMS). 

New research by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, based on a gap assessment of over 650 UK companies across a range of sectors, shows that many are missing a trick when it comes to their environmental management system (EMS).

As many as nine in ten (90%) have a system in place that isn’t fully fit for purpose, with just one in ten realising the full potential of EMS by undertaking a cross-functional review of all the political, social, economic, environmental, technological and internal issues that can impact on it. They are then incorporating this information into its design.

More importantly, in 2015 the standard for EMS (14001) – the chief standard required by public sector and large corporate procurers - will be upgraded. The biggest change and challenge for UK business will be the greater emphasis on leadership and commitment – an area where many firms already fall down.

Eight in ten (80%) do not have sufficient top level support to meet the new requirements. Four in ten (42%) will be making a standing start with top management having little or no involvement in their company’s EMS.

As well as too little time and leadership, many firms admit to too little investment in their EMS. Less than half (49%) are investing appropriately for their environmental performance and competence. Despite this, 41% of those who have it say that ISO 14001 is a critical part of their business strategy, ensuring that they are future-proofed against a changing environment and customer requirements.

At the same time, the gap analysis shows that just one in ten (11%) are maximising the benefits of EMS by ensuring it considers the entire lifecycle of their product or service. This means taking into account everything from raw material extraction, transport, manufacturing and retailing through to managing the product or service at end use.

Now EEF is urging other businesses to use its free online gap analysis tool to find out where they currently stand on EMS and what more they could or should be doing:

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"How is your manufacturing business preparing for a net Zero target?"