Help Keep the World Green

Article excerpt

The ISO 14000 standards present a challenge for companies and a service opportunity for CPA firms.

As we approach the new millennium, concern about the environment is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Environmental costs and obligations have grown substantially and will continue to grow as society becomes more conscious of its surroundings, environmental laws and regulations increase and corporations face increased pressure to be good environmental citizens. To address the emergence of an international "green movement," many countries have enacted legislation intended to hold organizations more accountable for their environmental obligations. Companies have responded by taking a proactive stance on voluntary initiatives.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) promulgated a series of standards called ISO 14000 that are intended to help businesses around the world voluntarily manage their environmental responsibilities and ensure that policies, procedures and practices conform with company environmental targets and objectives. The worldwide impact of these standards is expected to transcend those of the ISO 9000 quality standards. In fact, ISO 14000 may eventually become a requirement for obtaining ISO 9001 recertification.

Businesses of all sizes across all industries face the demanding high-stakes challenge of attaining ISO 14001 registration and certification. (ISO 14000 consists of several guideline standards and one compliance standard, labeled ISO 14001, which includes the rules companies register under to become certified.) Exhibit 1, page 59, describes the six ISO 14000 categories and the related standards. Like ISO 9000, ISO 14000 may someday become a prerequisite for competing in the global market while also helping to safeguard the earth's resources.

Exhibit 1: ISO Categories and Related Standards

Category             Standards

1. Environmental     ISO 14001, which provides core requirements
management systems   for establishing and maintaining an EMS that
(EMS)                an external third party can certify or
                     register

                     ISO 14002, which provides guidelines on ISO
                     14001 for small- and medium-sized enterprises

                     ISO 14004, which explains EMS and helps
                     companies tailor it to their operations

2. Environmental     ISO 14010 -- General methods on environmental
auditing             auditing

                     ISO 14011 -- Audit procedures--Auditing of
                     EMS

                     ISO 14012 -- Qualification criteria for
                     environmental auditors

                     ISO 14013 -- Management of environmental
                     audit programs

                     ISO 14014 -- Initial reviews

3. Environmental     ISO 14015- Environmental site assessments
labeling
                     ISO 14020 -- Environmental labels and
                     declarations

                     ISO 14021 -- Environmental labels and
                     declarations; self-declared environmental
                     claims--terms and definitions

                     ISO 14024 -- Environmental labels and
                     declarations--Environmental labeling Type I.

                     ISO 14025 -- Environmental labels and
                     declarations--Environmental labeling Type III

4. Performance       ISO 14031 -- General guidelines on
evaluation           environmental performance evaluation

                     ISO 14032 -- Case studies illustrating the
                     use of ISO 14031

5. Life-cycle        ISO 14040-- Life-cycle assessment--Principles
assessment           and framework

                     ISO 14041 -- Environmental management in
                     life-cycle assessment--Goal and scope
                     definition and inventory analysis

                     ISO 14042 -- Life-cycle assessment--impact
                     assessment

                     ISO 14043 -- Life-cycle
                     assessment--interpretation

                     ISO 14047 -- Examples for the application
                     of ISO 14042

                     ISO 14048 -- Life-cycle indicator format

                     ISO 14049 -- Examples for the application
                     of ISO 14041

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