Extending the Environmental Focus to Supply Chains. ISO 14001 as an Inter-Organizational Tool?

University dissertation from The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics

Abstract: In the wake of preventive thinking, attention has turned towards a life cycle perspective of products. Businesses can no longer ignore the environmental impacts of the products outside the borders of their own facilities. Consequently companies are now extending their environmental considerations beyond their internal production to include the environmental performance of their suppliers and supply chains. At the same time, many companies are implementing environmental management systems, certified according to the international standard ISO 14001. Therefore, the question arises, could the structure of an EMS, as outlined in the ISO 14001 be used as an inter-organizational tool for setting, communicating, and monitoring the environmental requirements in the supply chain. This thesis considers this question and presents the results from recent literature, and practical experiences. It goes on to analyze and discuss the possibilities and potential problems connected to this extended use of the standard. The results establish the importance of building trust and close relationships between the cooperating companies. Trust relates also to credibility of the ISO 14001 and its certification audit. The research suggests better use of the companies’ internal capabilities stemming from implementation of ISO 14001 in order to overcome some of the problems.