Pros & Cons of ISO 14001

ISO 14001 standards
ISO 14001 standards (Image: work (over)flow image by Scott Williams from

ISO 14001 comes from a set of environmental standards that are recognized internationally. This particular standard represents the primary set of standards used by companies for developing and implementing an environmental management system that is effective. Before you decide to implement these standards you should do your homework as there are both pros and cons that you should be aware of.

Competitive Advantage

Consumers are placing more and more emphasis when making a purchase decision on how environmentally conscious a company is. If your company is ISO 14001-certified and your competitor is not then you may have a competitive advantage and your company may be viewed as being a better environmental citizen; your products may be more attractive to the environmentally conscious shopper.


The ISO Standards are a great way to establish benchmarks and then measure how you are doing against those benchmarks. This can help both internally and externally. Internally you can see how you are doing and change things to make improvements or see how effective changes you already have made are. Externally it makes the structure of the company's environmental management more visible and clear.

Procedure Not Performance

Simply becoming ISO 14001-certified does not guarantee you will increase your performance in the stated area. This is just a set of procedures that describe a process that, if followed, should lead to improved performance, but there are no guarantees.


There are two costs associated with becoming ISO 14001-certified. First there are internal costs, which are probably more of an opportunity cost than an actual outlaying of money. Someone, or many people, within your organization will be responsible for completing the required paperwork and reviewing the current processes. Externally, you will need to hire someone to audit your company and certify you are under compliance. This must be done every year. Costs range dramatically based on size of company and extent of processes.

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