News & Commentary on ISO Management System Standards

    10 Reasons Why ISO 14001 Compliance Matters to SMEs

    Image of a hand holding a globe-shaped water droplet


    Even the smallest organization has a lot to gain from a

    certified Environmental Management System (EMS)

    New businesses often ponder the benefits of ISO 14001 Certification, and, being busy with start-up priorities, postpone certification until it is asked for in a tender document or by a prospective customer. 

    At that point, it is, of course, too late. Optimistically, it takes a minimum of 5 months to get certified by which time the opportunity is lost.

    You should be proactive about your business's impact on the environment (and the law requires it) and the list of benefits here can be used to persuade yourself and colleagues to get started sooner rather than later down the road to ISO 14001 Certification.

    10 Reasons Why ISO 14001 Compliance Matters to SMEs

    CTA 14001 29 step Infographic

    While helping to preserve our environment, here are 10 more reasons why ISO 14001 compliance is important not only to big businesses but to both small and medium-sized businesses alike.

    1. Recognized reputation as an environmentally responsible business and you have the internationally-recognized Certificate to prove it,
    2. Larger pool of qualified candidates applying to work with your business because of this reputation,
    3. Reduced frequency of environmental incidents and a corresponding reduction in the number of times you need to advise Environmental Protection Agencies of such adverse events.,
    4. Improved ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues with an improved relationship with the regulatory authorities as a consequence,
    5. Reduced cost of Environmental Incidents as you have a system in place to prevent their recurrence,
    6. Reduced downtime and the costs of disruption to operations because of fewer Environmental Incidents and, when they occur, they are dealt with systematically and efficiently,
    7. Reduced cost of insurance premiums as insurance companies recognise that certified businesses make fewer, and less costly, claims,
    8. Peer recognition for having achieved an international benchmark, which in turn influences current and potential customers who are concerned about their social responsibilities)
    9. Improved scoring in pre-tender documents (especially from public sector organizations): helps ensure that your organization gets a chance to compete with established businesses.
    10. Reduced fines if prosecuted as your certification constitutes objective evidence of the seriousness with which environmental aspects are treated.

    So, if you don't have a certification to ISO 14001:2015, or you need ‘ammunition’ to persuade your colleagues, you now have 10 good reasons where the financial benefits, as well as the practical ones, can be calculated.  Your staff and your customers will thank you for it.

    ISO 14001 Compliance's Role in Helping Organizations Achieve Sustainable Business Practices

    Resource Planning

    ISO 14001 compliance places a strong emphasis on resource planning, which involves identifying, managing, and optimizing the use of resources within an organization. 

    It can help your organization to incorporate sustainable energy solutions into your resource planning strategies by helping you find ways to reduce your energy consumption, improve waste minimization, and find alternative energy sources to fuel your business operations, among other things.

    Supply Chain

    ISO 14001’s comprehensive approach to environmental management can have a significant effect throughout the supply chain. It can help your organization address environmental concerns not only within your operations but also in those of your suppliers and partners. A green supply chain that conforms with the requirements of ISO 14001 ensures that commitment to sustainability is shared among business partners from the start to the end.


    Green procurement, the practice of purchasing environmentally responsible products and services, also works well with ISO 14001. Your organization can use this standard to set criteria for sustainable suppliers and promote environment-friendly procurement practices. 

    These can include buying from eco-certified suppliers, prioritizing the use of local materials or suppliers, and considering the lifecycle of products from production to use and disposal to ensure that they align with sustainability goals.


    Green manufacturing focuses on reducing waste, conserving resources, and minimizing emissions in production processes. ISO 14001 provides a roadmap for implementing these principles. It encourages the adoption of green technology, materials, and processes, promoting a more sustainable approach to manufacturing while maintaining operational efficiency.


    Sustainable logistics is about optimizing the movement of goods while minimizing the environmental impact. ISO 14001 can help your organization evaluate its logistics processes and find opportunities to reduce emissions, improve fuel efficiency, and minimize waste.


    Sustainability reporting is essential for organizations committed to transparency and accountability. ISO 14001 can help your organization with this by aiding in collecting, analyzing, and disclosing environmental performance data. 

    You can then use this data to prepare sustainability reports to prove your organization's dedication to responsible environmental practices to stakeholders, investors, and the public.

    Corporate Social Responsibility

    ISO 14001 compliance and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) go hand in hand, as ISO 14001 is an important tool for organizations looking to prove their commitment to sustainable business practices. 

    By adhering to ISO 14001 standards, your organization can demonstrate a proactive approach to environmental impact reduction, which is a key component of environment-based CSR initiatives.

    How to Become Compliant with ISO 14001?

    Let's distinguish between managing the environmental aspects of your business and implementing a formal Environmental Management System.

    As processes are established as part of a start-up, you'll need to address the control of environmental aspects as they are realized with environmental management activities.

    By the time you think about going forward for certification, a lot of the foundation work (in the form of risk assessments and environmental programs, for example) will already have been completed.

    As soon as processes and procedures are bedded in, you can start looking into getting certified to ISO 14001.  You definitely won't regret it, knowing that the potential for harm to the environment is under control and in line with both legal and regulatory requirements. 

    And you'll have your ISO 14001 Certificate as proof of your commitment and achievements regarding minimizing your environmental impact.

    Starting Your Journey Towards ISO 14001 Compliance

    If you're wondering where to start with certification, begin by considering our ISO 14001 Lead Implementer Course as well as the other posts we have published about this standard (search 'News' for 'ISO 14001').


    Note: Originally posted in October 2019; revised and updated in February 2022.

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    Written by Dr John FitzGerald

    Director & Founder of deGRANDSON Global. Spent 15 years in the manufacturing industry and 25 years training, consulting & auditing management systems
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