Proving Commitment to Sustainable Business Practices with ISO 14001
Consumers want to make ethical decisions when making a purchase, but they need manufacturers and packaging suppliers to make it easier for them. With growing interest in the environment, there has never been a better time for brands to prove their commitment to sustainability.
Social and Environmental Responsibility
Price, packaging and position on the shelf have long been recognised as means of influencing consumer behaviour. Whilst these factors remain fundamentally important, consumers are now keen to support ethical brands.
In a Unilever study of 20,000 adults, the results showed that 33% of consumers bought brands that they associated with being socially and environmentally responsible. In addition, 53% of UK shoppers reported that they felt better when purchasing ‘green’ products.
Interestingly, 21% of those surveyed would consider switching brands, if sustainability credentials were displayed. This provides green companies with a clear action that could boost sales.
The trouble is that many companies have jumped on the bandwagon. Almost every business is now claiming to be making positive changes to reduce their impact on the environment. This ‘greenwashing’ has left consumers distrustful of the claims. Essentially, it is difficult to differentiate between those brands who are taking genuine steps to ensure their entire business practices are sustainable and those who see it as a quick win, marketing campaign.
ISO 14001 Environmental Management
For businesses that prioritise environmental practices as a core value, one way to differentiate from the competition is to attain ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification.
In short, the ISO 14001 certification process reviews the organisation’s day-to-day procedures and includes an audit of those current practices and systems and recommendations for improvements. As part of your working methodology, you would then be following up by implementing the change measures and regularly monitoring your own ongoing activities.
If you are committed to sustainability, it may require minimal work to achieve certification and formal recognition of your environmental responsibility, as you will likely already be doing much that is needed. See how close to gaining ISO Certification you already are using our short Quiz.
Working towards and achieving ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification also provides the opportunity to advertise your efforts. Use blog articles and social media to inform the public of the steps being taken and thereby promote your organisation over others in the field. Once attained, you can display the ISO certification on your website and company documentation, business cards, emails, exhibition stands, packaging and so forth. This will build consumer awareness and trust in your brand. If the survey is representative, the outcome will be an increase in sales.
Advantages of Sustainable Business Practices
In addition to influencing buyer decisions, achievement of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management standard will prove your regulatory compliance which can open up new markets for your company as a supplier. In turn, these would provide your business with growth opportunities.
A commitment to sustainability also offers financial benefits. By improving the efficiency of processes for environmental reasons, you will be rewarded with tangible reductions in waste, energy use, water use and raw materials. With less of your raw material being wasted, you will see other beneficial reductions including:
- Stock levels (lowering working capital requirements)
- Stock storage areas (reducing rental requirements or enabling reallocation of space to more profitable activities).
- Time spent handling waste (allowing individuals to focus on other areas of the business)
- Areas required to store waste (again impacting on rental requirements and available space)
- The frequency of waste collections
- Related bureaucracy
Unilever has provided clear evidence of such efficiencies. Since committing to sustainability in 2008, they report that eco- production has saved the company €600m in costs. In addition, they claim that the changes have helped to future-proof the supply chain (because they will have imposed similar controls on upstream suppliers) and build the trust of consumers and stakeholders.
Sustainability Crucial to Long-Term Business Growth
There’s no doubt that the factors that influence consumer buying decision are altered by a range of cultural, social, personal and psychological factors. For this reason, you may consider sustainability to be the current trend, soon to be replaced by other factors.
Evidence points to the contrary. Studies carried out by Shelton Group and Cone Communication suggests that Millennials have a greater interest in ethical brands than any other consumer group. The younger generation is unwilling to pay a premium for sustainability, as they view it as standard good practice. The key is to incorporate environmental management into everyday business, to provide consumers with what they want, without compromise.
Furthermore, the efficiencies derived from waste reduction and sustainable sourcing of materials also enhance the efficiencies and reliability of the company’s own operation. This builds towards its own sustainability, durability and long-term existence, at higher profitability, leading to long-term growth.
Support with ISO 14001 Certification
The experienced team at Qualitation have a 100% success rate for helping businesses to achieve ISO certification first time. We have a deep understanding of what has to be implemented in order to comply with ISO standards, yet tailor our support to your business and what can reasonably be implemented. But more than this, we have the passion for environmental improvements that lies behind the work we do. We love to demonstrate this with the solutions we create with customers.
If you are ready to prove your commitment to sustainability or simply want to find out more, contact Qualitation on: 0345 6006975 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org