5 Challenges You Might Encounter When Getting ISO 14001 Certification

Companies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are increasingly turning to ISO 14001 Certification because they can demonstrate their environmental qualifications to customers, investors and government agencies. 

The ISO 14001 certification provides a benchmark for companies to measure their environmental performance, and it also helps them identify gaps and risks in their current environmental management practices. 

However, it’s important to note that ISO 14001 Certification is not a “silver bullet” solution. It’s a complex, challenging, and time-consuming process that requires significant investment in time and money. 

To help you prepare for the challenges that may await you on the path to ISO 14001 certification, we’ve outlined the 5 most common challenges you may face as you work to achieve your certification.

The 5 Most Common Challenges Of Obtaining ISO 14001 certification

  1. Shortage of Qualified Personnel
  2. Lack of Motivation
  3. Lack of Financial Capability
  4. Lack of Clarity in Environmental Targets
  5. Insufficient Understanding of Regulations and Legislation
ISO 14001

1. Shortage of Qualified Personnel

The first challenge of obtaining and maintaining ISO 14001 Certificate is the shortage of competent personnel. With high turnover rates, it’s easy to run short of qualified human resources. 

Qualified personnel need to conduct internal audits that evaluate the implemented environmental management system (EMS) with ISO 14001 requirements checklist. Internal audit is also a crucial factor that influences the chances of getting the certification. 

For these reasons, your organization must have qualified personnel with a background related to corporate activities, audit competence, and an understanding of the ISO 14001 standards. 

If your organization has employee turnover issues – your qualified personnel often come and go, you need to hire and train someone new to help get your certification. However, this is more time and effort consuming.

ISO 14001 certification 4

2. Lack of Motivation

Organizational motivation is one of the biggest hurdles in getting an ISO 14001 Certification. If you think that the certification is not worth the effort, it is difficult to get everyone on the same page. After all, your employees feel demotivated to commit and support the ISO journey.

To implement your EMS successfully, you need employee involvement and commitment. You need to train and educate them about the basic concept of ISO 14001 Certification, and more importantly, the benefits for your company and them

Ongoing and consistent communication is also crucial to keep everyone on board to promote sustainable change within the company, particularly during the implementation and operation phases of the certification process.

3. Lack of Financial Capability

Financial capability is a critical success factor for getting your ISO 14001 certificate. The cost of implementing ISO 14001 can be very high, from a system set up to training and external audit. It is a big challenge for many companies, especially the small companies that have limited funds. 

Besides, investment in new technology is another cost that will hinder the ISO14001 implementation. Companies may need to invest in new technologies to run their production operations and process waste effectively to achieve the environmental objectives. However, it usually requires a considerable cost. Many companies may struggle with cash flow problems or don’t have the budget to invest in new technologies.

Although it can be very costly to implement and manage the system, many factors can be controlled. You need to conduct a break-even analysis to determine the expenses you can afford. It can help you prioritize your investment needs based on your budget.

4. Lack of Clarity in Environmental Targets

Many organizations set environmental targets that are too general. For example, “we will train all staff in environmental management”. That is already a requirement of the ISO 14001 standard. Without a specific target, it is difficult for a company to achieve significant improvements. 

If you want to get ISO 14001 Certification for your business, raise the bar and go for the blue-sky initiatives. You can set environmental targets such as:

  • Minimize the unneeded use of paper 
  • Convert to more environmentally friendly chemicals
  • Reduce electricity or waste usage by 10 per cent

You can set any environmental objectives that fit your organization but keep in mind that too many targets or unrealistic goals will affect your results. Also, if you want to implement your EMS effectively, you need to set the targets at a divisional level and allocate responsibility to an employee or a team. 

Another thing you need to know is your organization’s capabilities and limitations so that your organization can set realistic goals. Given the cost of ISO 14001 certification, it is also critical to create realistic goals to maximize return on investment. 

5. Insufficient Understanding of Regulations and Legislation

One of the biggest challenges of getting ISO 14001 Certification is not having a deep understanding of the legal requirements. Having a list of legislative acts is not enough if you want to implement the environmental management system successfully. 

As stated in the ISO 14001 standards, each company is required to set an environmental policy that will comply with any relevant legislative requirements. In short, you need to understand the local legislation and apply applicable legal requirements to your business.

However, many businesses have trouble in this area. First of all, legislation is quite different from one country to another, sometimes even different between regions within a specific country. 

Secondly, legal requirements are different for various industries. For instance, a construction firm and a chemical plant will have legal requirements that are very different from what they need to apply. It has become increasingly difficult for organizations. 

Therefore, you need to research adequately. It helps you understand the applicable local legislation, how it impacts every level in your organization. Then, identify and analyze how each legal requirement applies to each part of your business, including sites and people. 

Besides, you also need to be aware of any updates in the legislation. Maintaining an ISO 14001 audit checklist will help your company meet the applicable legislation if you want to get the certification in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

How Can You Overcome These Challenges To Get A Successful ISO 14001 Certification?

Despite these challenges, ISO 14001 certification is well worth getting. It has helped thousands of organizations globally reduce their environmental impacts and improve profits. It’s obvious there can be some hurdles in obtaining certification. However, you can avoid these challenges with sufficient budget and business planning. 

Before you can proceed with ISO 14001 certification, you need to have a plan. A good plan spells out:

  • Who will be involved?
  • What steps need to be taken?
  • What resources will be needed?
  • How much do you need to invest?

When everything is in place, you can then implement the ISO 14001 standard. 

Read also:

The Essentials of ISO Certification and Why It’s Necessary

How to Get ISO Certification Online in Malaysia?

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