Best practices for integration of ISO 14001 environmental management systems into small to medium size businesses

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Title: Best practices for integration of ISO 14001 environmental management systems into small to medium size businesses
Author: Hakim, Najib
Abstract: Small to Medium size Businesses (SMBs) are now confronted with a new challenge; "Would it be appropriate to implement and incorporate a strategic Environmental Management System (EMS) into their business?" SMBs have to live up to certain environmental responsibilities similar to large corporations. Major corporations are starting to favor suppliers that have a certified ISO 14001 environmental management system, so the question for many SMBs is, "Is it feasible to incorporate such a system?" Industries currently face a certain degree of challenge when it comes to the environment, environmental performance, and demands by society for cleaner, more efficient processes. In SMBs there is always that question of feasibility, after all, to incorporate and change something it takes revenue. Limited SMBs budgets may present a problem, as may the limited environmental knowledge base of the staff. These problems are common when working with SMBs. This research explores this issue by reviewing literature sources and interviewing SMBs, and attempts to simplify a portion of the environmental management system process for SMBs by identifying successful practices employed by similar organizations to integrate a portion of strategic environmental management systems into their existing business systems. Eight SMBs were interviewed as part of this work. Companies were selected on the basis of size, location, willingness to participate, and, most importantly, the presence of an operating environmental management system meeting the specifications of the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 14001 environment system standard. The findings of this research help evaluate the feasibility of implementing ISO 14001 in SMBs. The research also shows that ISO 14001 is becoming a trend in industries. This paper also argues that some SMBs are closer to ISO 14001 certification than they think because they have pre-existing systems in place that can drastically reduce the amount of time for the incorporation of ISO 14001. A Geographic Approach to Planning (GAP) analysis is used to determine what is lacking.
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Date: 2003

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