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A5. Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity

Type: Response indicator

Introduction

This indicator shows the number of ISO (‘International Organization for Standardization’) 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium (50 to 249 employees) and large (at least 250 employees) businesses in the UK.

It is a proxy for the number of medium and large businesses in the UK that are taking steps to minimise their environmental impact as measured by the proportion of these businesses with ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) certification.

Key results

This indicator has not been updated for the 2020 publication. ISO, who provide the number of 14001 certifications, refined their 2018 survey and published 2018 results that are considered to be a better reflection of the situation of the market. However, they are not comparable to previous results due to adjustments made by some of the providers of data in relation to the number of certificates, sites and sectors. This indicator will be updated when more results from the refined survey become available.

In 2017, the number of ISO (n1) (‘International Organization for Standardization’) 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium and large businesses in the UK was 41.5% (Figure A5).

This represents a long-term increase of more than 550% since the ISO Environmental Management System standard was first introduced in 1999; a small, short-term decrease of 3% since 2012; and a similarly small increase of 2% in the most recent year for which data are available.

Figure A5. Number of ISO 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium and large businesses in the UK, 1999 to 2017.

A bar chart showing how the number of ISO 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium and large businesses in the UK has changed between 1999 and 2017. Although the number has increased considerably from 4% in 1999 to 42% in 2017, the majority of this increase took place between 1999 and 2011. The indicator has remained relatively stable over the past 6 years but fallen slightly in the last 2 years.

Notes:

  1. Based on the total number of ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) certifications in the UK on 31 December each year and the total number of medium and large businesses in the UK on 1 January of the following year.
  2. ‘Medium businesses’ are those that employ between 50 and 249 staff; ‘large businesses’ are those that employ at least 250 staff.

Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; International Organization for Standardization.

Assessment of change in biodiversity considerations in business activity

  Long term Short term Latest year
Number of ISO 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium and large businesses in the UK

Improving
1999–2017

Deteriorating
2012–2017

Increased (2017)

Note: The long- and short-term assessments are based on a 3% rule of thumb. The base years for these assessments use a 3-year average. See Assessing Indicators.

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Indicator description

The government’s Environmental Protection Expenditure (EPE) survey (on which this indicator was previously based) has been revised. As a result, it is no longer possible to update the original measures for the indicator; a summary of results for earlier years can be found in the ‘Archived measures’ section of this fiche.

The revised measure for this indicator (introduced in 2019) tracks the number of ISO (‘International Organization for Standardization’) 14001 certifications in the UK as a proportion of the total number of medium (50 to 249 employees) and large (at least 250 employees) businesses in the UK. It is a proxy for the number of UK businesses that are taking steps to minimise their environmental impact as measured by the proportion of these businesses with ISO 14001 certification.

Internationally, the 2 main Environmental Management System (EMS) certification schemes currently available are ISO 14001 and EMAS (the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). ISO 14001 represents the core set of standards used by organisations to design and implement an effective EMS. At the end of 2017, ISO 14001 was used by more than 360,000 organisations across 181 countries and economies; more than 17,500 of these organisations were based in the UK. The requirements of ISO 14001 are also an integral part of EMAS, however, the structure and material requirements of EMAS are more demanding, mainly concerning performance improvement, legal compliance, and reporting duties. In September 2018, there were 3,822 organisations with EMAS registration across the EU, only 14 of which were based in the UK.

Alternative EMS options include (i) BS (British Standard) 8555, not a certifiable standard as such, but designed to provide guidance for implementing an EMS on a phase-by-phase basis and (ii) ‘in-house’ EMSs that are not officially certified. 

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Relevance

Decisions made by businesses of any size within key sectors such as agriculture, forestry, industry, housing and infrastructure development, water supply and fisheries can have significant biodiversity impacts. Information on how biodiversity considerations have been integrated into agriculture, forestry and fisheries is included in other UK indicators but additional sectors were not adequately covered elsewhere in the indicator set. This indicator aims to provide information on the biodiversity considerations of businesses across all sectors. UK production and consumption has an impact within the UK as well as overseas.

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Background

Environmental management has become a core business issue for many organisations. Minimising the amount of waste that is produced, reducing energy consumption and making more efficient use of resources can all help to protect and enhance the environment, in addition to leading to financial cost savings.

It is challenging to develop a universal measure that captures business interaction with biodiversity. Businesses can have direct and indirect impacts on nature, influenced by a wide variety of factors including resource consumption, land use, emissions/pollution, supply chain impacts and sourcing. The use of an EMS has been chosen as a proxy to measure the proportion of businesses that are taking steps to manage their environmental impacts. There are a number of regulatory and market drivers that may influence a company’s decision to adopt an EMS, however the adoption of an accredited and audited EMS demonstrates that a company is willing to track the implications of its operations on the environment. According to the ISO (2015),

An environmental management system helps organizations identify, manage, monitor and control their environmental issues in a “holistic” manner.

It requires that an organization considers all environmental issues relevant to its operations, such as air pollution, water and sewage issues, waste management, soil contamination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resource use and efficiency.

Therefore, while many companies may not measure their specific biodiversity impacts as part of an EMS, steps that are taken to reduce resource consumption, energy, waste, emissions and pollution offer benefits to the environment and ultimately reduce pressures on biodiversity.

Archived measures:

a. Environmental Management System

b. Environmental consideration in supply chains

The 2 historic measures for this indicator are presented here for reference but given that they can no longer be updated, both will be permanently removed from the fiche during the 2020 update of the Biodiversity Indicators. They show the percentage of large businesses surveyed in the original EPE survey that operated at least one EMS, and the percentage of large companies that formally considered the environment during procurement and contract management relating to their supply chain.

The EPE survey collected data from large and small businesses on an annual basis. Smaller companies (with less than 250 employees) were not surveyed every year and there was less consistency over time. Therefore, small companies were not included in this indicator.

In 2013, 77% of large companies responding to the EPE Survey had an EMS in place, compared with 83% of those companies responding in 2012 and 79% of those responding in 2011.

Overall, 53% of the large companies responding to the survey in 2013 had an EMS certified to ISO 14001 and 24% of respondents had an EMS in place which was not externally certified (i.e. it was developed and implemented to meet “in-house” needs).

In 2013, 92% of large companies considered environmental issues within their supply chain, up from 78% in 2012. Within the 2013 figure, 58% formally considered environmental issues and 34% considered them informally; 8% did not consider environmental issues at all.

Figure A5ai. Percentage of large companies in the UK that use an Environmental Management System, 2011 to 2013.

The bar chart for this archived measure shows the percentage of large companies in the UK that use an environmental management system from 2011 to 2013.

Notes:

  1. As companies can have multiple systems in place, a hierarchy (EMAS > ISO 14001 > BS 8555 > In-house) has been applied to avoid double counting.
  2. Based on responses from 121 large companies in 2011, 127 large companies in 2012, and 134 large companies in 2013.
  3. ‘Large companies’ are those that employ at least 250 staff.
  4. ‘Don’t know’ was not given as a response option in the 2011 survey.

Source: Defra.

Figure A5bi. Percentage of large companies in the UK that consider environmental issues in their supply chain, 2012 to 2013.

The bar chart for this archived measure shows the percentage of large companies in the UK that consider environmental issues in their supply chain from 2011 to 2013.

Notes:

  1. Based on responses from 120 large companies in 2012, and 133 large companies in 2013.
  2. ‘Large companies’ are those that employ at least 250 staff.

Source: Defra.

The original EPE Survey collected data on how much businesses spent on environmental aspects of their business. It covered a range of sectors including:

  • Mining & Quarrying;
  • Food, Beverages & Tobacco Products;
  • Coke & Refined Petroleum;
  • Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals;
  • Basic & Fabricated Metals;
  • Machinery & Electrical Equipment;
  • Energy Production & Distribution;
  • Water Supply & Treatment.

Figure A5aii shows a breakdown of EMS use by sector. It is difficult to draw strong comparisons between sectors as the sample sizes vary, however in 2013, respondents from the Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector reported the lowest EMS use (72%). The highest level of EMS use was reported in the Basic and Fabricated Metals sector where 90% of respondents confirmed EMS use. 

Figure A5aii. Environmental Management System use by large UK companies, by Sector, 2013.

The bar chart for this archived measure shows the percentage of large companies in the UK that use an environmental management system in 2013. The results are broken down by industry sector.

Notes: 

  1. As companies can have multiple systems in place, a hierarchy (EMAS > ISO 14001 > BS 8555 > In-house) has been applied to avoid double counting.
  2. Based on responses from 134 large companies.
  3. ‘Large companies’ are those that employ at least 250 staff.
  4. Numbers in brackets give the number of responding companies from each sector.
  5. Data from sectors have been combined in some instances. * Other Industry is comprised of: Coke & Refined Petroleum, Water Supply & Treatment, Energy Production & Distribution.

Source: Defra.

Figure A5bii shows a breakdown of the proportion of responding companies within each sector that formally and informally consider environmental issues along their supply chains. Again it is difficult to draw strong comparisons between sectors as the sample sizes vary, however in 2013, all of the companies within the Mining and Quarrying sector that responded to the EPE survey considered the environment within their supply chains, 86% formally considered the environment within their supply chains and 14% informally. The Basic Fabrications and Metals sector had the lowest proportion of responding companies that formally and informally considered environmental issues along their supply chains (68%).

Figure A5bii. Consideration of environmental issues in the supply chains of large UK companies, by Sector, 2013.

ukbi2020-A5bii-v2.jpg

Notes:

  1. Based on responses from 128 large companies.
  2. ‘Large companies’ are those that employ more than 250 staff.
  3. Numbers in brackets give the number of responding companies from each sector.
  4. Data from sectors have been combined in some instances. * Other Industry is comprised of: Coke & Refined Petroleum, Water Supply & Treatment, Energy Production & Distribution.

Source: Defra.

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Goals and Targets

Aichi Targets for which this is a primary indicator

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Aichi Target 4 icon

Target 4: By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

Aichi Targets for which this is a relevant indicator

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Aichi Target 1 icon

Target 1: By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

 

Aichi Target 2 icon

Target 2: By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

 

Aichi Target 3 icon

Target 3: By 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio‑economic conditions.

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Reference Title
British Standards Institution Home page
Defra Environmental Protection Expenditure Survey
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Business population estimates for the UK and regions 2018: detailed tables
European Commission EMAS
International Organization for Standardization ISO Survey of certifications to management system standards - full results
Office for National Statistics Inter Departmental Business Register (IDBR)

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References

International Organization for Standardization (2015). ISO 14001 Key benefits. Available at: https://www.iso.org/files/live/sites/isoorg/files/store/en/PUB100372.pdf

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Downloads

Download the Datasheet from JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Last updated: September 2019

Latest data: 2017

 

This content is available on request as a pdf in non-accessible format. If you wish for a copy please go to the enquiries page.

 

(n1) Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages the organisation is known by the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal.

Categories:

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020

Published: .

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