The importance of ISO 14001 and sustainability in economic recovery

Why sustainability and ISO 14001 are important in economic recovery

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a report yesterday that showed Ireland as a country was well on its way to meeting its EU Waste recovery targets but it also warned that much of this achievement is down to the recession. Today Certification Europe will take a look at how sustainability and ISO certification in ISO 14001 or ISO 20121 can help in the country’s economic recovery.

Dr Jonathan Derham of the EPA offered his opinions on the findings. “Ireland is well advanced towards achievement of all of its EU obligations across a broad range of waste legislation, in particular in relation to recovery and recycling.  In fact, a recent European Environment Agency report showed that Ireland was one of the countries in Europe with the fastest growing recycling rates.”

The report, available online here, shows that Ireland has achieved all but one of its targets for EU waste management. Some of the highlights of the report are

  • Municipal solid waste generation in Ireland has decreased by 17% since it peaked in 2007.
  • There was a 5% increase in municipal waste recovery since 2010, to 47%.
  • The recycling rate for municipal waste is now equivalent to the EU norms, at (40%).
  • The bulk of municipal waste recovered, 73%, is exported for recovery.
  • The majority of municipal waste, 53%, is disposed of to landfill – though this continues to decrease year on year.
  • The tonnage of refuse derived fuel (RDF) used as a fuel at cement kilns and incinerators in Ireland and abroad increased by 68%.
  • Ireland has surpassed the 2011 EU packaging recovery target of 60%, with a 79% recovery rate in 2011.
  • Household WEEE collection amounted to 7.6 kg per person, almost double the 4 kg per person EU target.
  • There was an 83% decrease in construction and demolition waste collected since 2007.
  • There was a 21% increase in household organic waste collected since 2010.

These are all very promising figures and they can be attributed to a changing mindset amongst Irish people. The source of this change in mindset is still to be determined.

The EPA can draw a direct corollary between the amount of house hold income and the amount of house hold waste being generated. The massive increase in household organic is undoubtedly related to “brown bins” being collected for free. The 83% decease in construction waste is even easier to explain with less construction happening in the current economy.

Dr Jonathan Derham of the EPA also warned against complacency and also made an issue of the country’s reuse, recovery and recycle rates for end of life vehicles,

“Ireland’s continued reliance on landfill means that we are at risk of not reaching strict biodegradable waste diversion targets by 2016. With higher End of Life Vehicle (ELV) targets coming into effect from January 2015, urgent action is needed to increase reuse, recovery and recycling of ELV materials.”

How ISO 14001 can lead the way

Many businesses first think of taking up ISO 14001 certification to enhance their reputation. The cost savings that a proper Environmental Waste Management system can bring is a pleasant surprise but it is not to be unexpected. As with all ISO certification this gives businesses a competitive advantage. This may be as simple as the savings attributed to recycling their waste but it may also result in the ability to tender for and win large contracts with other environmentally aware businesses.

Dr Derham explained that economic recovery and environmental aware behaviour is not mutually exclusive,

“We have to decouple waste generation from economic growth through ensuring that waste prevention and resource efficiency remains at the core of targeted national policy and measures, so that when economic recovery happens there is not an associated increase in waste to be managed”.

In a future where Ireland hopes to be more Green and more productive ISO 18000 plays an important part to help businesses become more resource efficient. This will help them improve competitiveness and save money through waste prevention and resource efficiency.

ISO 20121, Sustainable events, goes even further to help businesses ensure that there current actions do not harm the environment and ensures their businesses’ position in the community for years to come.

If you want to talk to an ISO 14001 or ISO 20121 expert today then you can contact us directly, to help ensure your businesses has a long, green and productive future ahead.

Robert Lyons
Robert Lyons


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