Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has fast become one of the top considerations for companies, as the pressure from regulators, politicians, investors and consumers mounts. Measuring the environmental impact and efforts to increase sustainability in operations, investors are prioritising ESG as a consideration when making investment decisions, while consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of and demanding responsible governance practices.
From reducing the carbon footprint, responsible energy management and eliminating unnecessary waste, to fair compensation, worker rights and anti-corruption policies, businesses must show more accountability and credible disclosure, amidst greater regulatory scrutiny.
According to Oliver Naidoo, Managing Director of certification body JC Auditors, forward-thinking companies don’t just want ESG to be a marketing slogan, but actively look for innovative and practical tools to demonstrate their ESG performance.
“One such tool, the ISO 14001 Environmental certification, provides tangible and verifiable evidence of an organisation’s commitment to the environment, specifically the prevention of pollution and responsible energy consumption,” he says.
ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management and provides a framework to holistically manage the environmental performance of an organisation.
With more than two decades of ISO 14001 experience, Naidoo says a crucial component of implementing responsible environmental management practices is ensuring that a holistic cradle-to-grave approach is adopted when identifying environmental aspects and their associated impacts. This includes considering the needs and expectations of all interested and affected parties.
General benefits of ISO 14001 implementation include a positive corporate image as it demonstrates a commitment to environmental responsibilities; improved leadership and employee engagement as its implementation requires the engagement of senior managers to ensure the success of the EMS; and, improved compliance with legal requirements. It also reduces costs.
“By improving waste management, enhancing the use of resources, and lowering energy consumption, businesses can uncover significant savings,” says Naidoo.
JC Auditors provide ISO and RTMS certifications to various industries, notably the logistics sector which accounts for approximately 40% of carbon emissions globally. The company has pioneered ISO 14001 certification in the road transport sector in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
According to Naidoo, certified companies must demonstrate compliance with the prevention of pollution and responsible energy consumption as part of their ISO 14001 environmental objectives.
“A very common environmental action plan implemented by road transport operations is the training of drivers on economical driving,” explains Naidoo. “The training content typically focuses on key aspects including avoidance of harsh acceleration, harsh braking and excessive engine idling; correct gear selection for driving speed or driving on the green band – all of which has a direct impact on minimising fuel consumption – especially significant in light of the recent incredible fuel price hikes - and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This focus on driving behaviour is one of the most effective, yet under-utilised, means to improve one’s environmental performance.” He says that road transport companies implementing the ISO 14001 environmental management standard must look at managing their energy/fuel consumption and consequent exhaust emissions.
“Whilst these are the two fundamental reporting measures, there are various other related aspects such as vehicle efficiency, tyre management, maintenance practices and, of course, driving behaviour – which has a critical impact on fuel consumption and the resultant carbon emissions.”
Naidoo believes certification, however, is not just about satisfying external stakeholders: it must add value to a business internally. “JC Auditors’ integrated and cost-effective certification solution is steadily finding greater adoption in the industry, as more companies seek to show that they are serious about their ESG performance,” concludes Naidoo.