ENIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN EUROPEAN UNION: SURVEY OF ISO 14001 CERTIFIED ESTONIAN COMPANIES
Keywords:CSR, certification process, environmental management initiative, environmental management system, ISO 14001
The growing importance of sustainable development and influence of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on the performance of companies have forced companies to care more than ever about the environmental impact of their activities. Wide range of environmental legislations has been enforced by the European Union during recent years in order to ensure sustainable development of European cities. As a result, various initiatives have taken place to boost companies’ interest to take control over the environmental performance. An environmental management area has developed strongly in recent decades and various systems and tools have been introduced to effectively manage sustainable environmental development of companies. More and more organizations both in Estonia and worldwide are initiating the ISO14001 certification process, which specifies requirements for environmental management systems, in order to develop and implement environmental policy and objectives. The main purpose of the present research was to identify the main factors of initiating the ISO certification process by Estonian companies and to get their opinion regarding the future of the ISO 14001 certification in Estonia. To achieve the aim of the research, the authors have set the following research tasks: to provide a wide overview of the scientific literature covering the main relevant studies in the selected research area; to research the implementation of standards in European Union and Estonia; to conduct a survey in the form of questionnaire among ISO 14001 certified enterprises; to reveal respondent’s opinion about the current situation and future development of ISO 14001 certification in Estonia. The main methods applied in this article include analytical method and quantitative research method. Authors conducted a survey among ISO 14001 certified Estonian companies in September-October 2015 and collected 115 replies. The findings of the present research clearly demonstrate that Estonian companies are actively involved into the environmental management process; therefore, they initiated the ISO 14001 certification procedure and are willing to renew the certificate upon expiration. They also confirm that Estonian stakeholders are aware of the environmental management initiatives and their opinions are valued by companies and inspire them to show better performance in the field of environmental sustainability. The companies are also caring about their reputation and compliance with environmental laws and legislation, and believe that ISO 14001 certification will assist in this matter. However, it should be pointed out that surveyed companies do not identify a direct link between the ISO 14001 certification and reductions of certain costs and expenses. Therefore, there should be more workshops and training organized in order to explain how the sustainability helps to boost the effectiveness of the company by reducing various expenses and increasing profits.