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Why US Companies Don’t Do ISO 14001

Consultants have cited costs and the economic recession as reasons why rates of ISO 14001 certification in the US lag behind other parts of the world.

Deb Iafrate, a consultant with Eagle Group USA in Michigan, told IMT Green and Clean Journal that many companies can’t afford to stay compliant with the ISO 14001 environmental management standard. The recession also prevented many firms from taking on additional expenses, the journal’s Michael Lewis argues.

US companies’ lack of interest in the standard is nothing new. ISO data shows that in 1999, North America made up just 7 percent of 14001 certifications, compared to 51.8 for Europe and 36.6 for east Asia and Pacific.

But after an increase in the years to 2002, the North American share of certifications steadily declined – with a particular hit in 2007 – to just 2.5 percent in 2010. Last year, its share ticked up slightly to 2.8 percent.

And from 2009 to 2010, the continent actually hit a precipitous decline in certifications, of 14 percent. It was not an isolated incident, however – certifications fell 15 percent in Central and South America in 2009, and 9 percent in the Middle East in 2010.

Certifications in North America have increased over the long-term, but at a much slower rate than the rest of the world.

A new factor could affect US companies’ decisions about whether or not to get certified: in 2015 the ISO is moving 14001 from a standard of “conformance” to one of “compliance.” This will give the standard sharper teeth, Iafrate said. “I think you’re going to see it be a lot harder for companies to get certified initially, and harder for them to maintain that status.

“If you’re not properly disposing of your waste, let’s say, they’re going to know about it and it will hurt you,” she added. 

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2 thoughts on “Why US Companies Don’t Do ISO 14001

  1. The consultant cited costs, but didn’t break down what they were. If someone is writing an article to explain why companies are not pursuing ISO14001 compliance, he or she should at least investigate instead of parroting the usual excuses. I’d like to see a cost/benefit analysis of companies that actually implemented the program.

  2. I agree w/Hans.

    Who wrote this article? Please do a follow-up piece on cost/benefit analysis of companies that actually implemented the program and those that did not.

    Thank you.

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