ISO 14001 was developed primarily to assist companies in reducing their environmental impact, but in addition to an improvement in environmental standards and performance, organizations can reap a number of economic benefits including higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements (Sheldon 1997) by utilizing the ISO standard. Firstly by minimizing the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines and improving an organization's efficiency (Delmas 2001), leading to a reduction in waste and consumption of resources, operating costs can be reduced (ISO14001.com.au 2010). Secondly, as an internationally recognized standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe can register as ISO 14001 compliant, eliminating the need for multiple registrations or certifications (Hutchens 2010). Thirdly there has been a push in the last decade by consumers, for companies to adopt stricter environmental regulations, making the incorporation of ISO 14001 a greater necessity for the long term viability of businesses (Delmas & Montiel 2009) and providing them with a competitive advantage against companies that do not adopt the standard (Potoki & Prakash, 2005). This in turn can have a positive impact on a company's asset value (Van der Deldt, 1997) and can lead to improved public perceptions of the business, placing them in a better position to operate in the international marketplace (Potoki & Prakash 1997; Sheldon 1997). Finally it can serve to reduce trade barriers between registered businesses (Van der Deldt, 1997).
Organizations can significantly benefit from EMS implementation through the identification of large cleaner production projects (e.g. which can drastically cut electricity costs in manufacturing industries). ISO 14001 can be a very effective tool to identify these cost savings opportunities for some organizations. Some other organizations can falter in its planning, lack of senior management commitment and poor understanding of how it should be implemented and find themselves managing an ineffective EMS. Improvements that organizations can make include adequately planning their structure and allocating adequate resources, providing training, creating forums for discussion, setting measurable targets and working according to the philosophy of continuous improvement (Burden, 2010).
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