Keywords: China, ISO 14001, environmental management systems, EMS, environmental regulation, environmental policy, cleaner production, greening industry, environmental performance, environmental certification
Understanding ISO 14001 adoption and implementation in China
This paper investigates the status of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) standard in China and analyses key factors influencing its adoption by Chinese enterprises. It applies lessons learnt from studying the implementation of China's mandatory environmental regulations to assess the potential for using this voluntary standard to promote improved environmental performance. Our findings indicate that the number of certified enterprises is growing exponentially and that factors influencing adoption include international trade, transnational corporate policy, government-sponsored environmental projects, the potential for regulatory, economic, and environmental benefits, and the interest of top company management. Evaluation of case studies demonstrates that while the reported benefits of ISO 14001 adoption are often substantial, benefits are often qualitative and more normalised, while quantitative information is needed to conduct analysis that can be generalised within and across industrial sectors. Finally, we synthesise information presented in the body of the paper and make recommendations on steps that can be taken to maximise the efficacy of future ISO 14001 certifications.