ISO 14000 vs ISO 26000: Difference and Comparison

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a body that sets standards related to various industrial, social, commercial, and other matters.

The set of guidelines/rules released by this body are accepted internationally and they also provide certification to various organizations who follow these guidelines and meet all requirements.

Key Takeaways

  1. ISO 14000 focuses on environmental management systems, while ISO 26000 addresses social responsibility.
  2. ISO 14000 provides a certifiable framework for organizations, whereas ISO 26000 offers voluntary guidance without certification.
  3. ISO 14000 helps organizations minimize their environmental impact, while ISO 26000 encourages sustainable and ethical practices across various aspects of business operations.

ISO 14000 vs ISO 26000

ISO 14000 is a family of standards that deal with environmental management. It provides a structure for companies to identify and manage their environmental impact. ISO 26000, is a standard that deals with social responsibility. It helps guide on organizations social responsibility acts.

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There are several hundred thousand organizations that have received ISO 14000 certification.

Being qualified for this certification implies that an organization is adhering to the set of guidelines under the ISO 14000 standards to minimize the harsh environmental effects. Adopting ISO 14000 standards is optional.

The aim of ISO 26000 resonates with that of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and it was established so that both governmental and non-governmental bodies operate with certain social responsibilities in mind.

ISO 26000 doesn’t offer any certification but following the guidelines of this standard may help achieve other certifications like ISO 9001.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonISO 14000ISO 26000
DefinitionISO 14000 is a set of guidelines to achieve environment-friendly objectives for an organization for both processes and the final product.ISO 26000 has established certain guidelines and principles regarding social responsibility and it is on the same page with the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  
IntroductionThe ISO 14000 standard was first released in 1996 and revised latest in 2015.The ISO 26000 standard was launched in 2010 and there were several negotiations between people from different aspects of professional life.
PrinciplesThere are key seven standards in the ISO 14000 series but the core standard is contained in ISO 14001.Seven central issues are addressed by ISO 26000, and each topic is divided into sub-topics.
CertificationBig companies or other organizations that received ISO 14000 certification mean that they are using materials, processes, etc. that are environmentally friendly.ISO 26000 doesn’t provide any certification and it is more like a framework of guidelines that can be followed if an organization wants to be socially responsible.
BenefitsThis standard will help in optimizing the recycling process and therefore minimizing waste generation.Being socially responsible improves the reputation of the brand and customer engagement.
RequirementsApart from the formal accreditation process, from product manufacturing to product disposal everything should be environment friendly.Since ISO 26000 is not a type of certification, no specific requirements are needed.

What is ISO 14000?

There are various types of industry exist today from chemical plants to automobile production units.

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These companies use several different methods to manufacture the final product and also have a separate unit for dumping the waste materials.

So, this entire process starts from the input of the raw material to the output of the final product, every process should be managed efficiently to receive ISO 14000 certification.

The main objective of ISO 14000 standards is to minimize the negative impact on the environment. If a company is planning to apply for ISO 14000 certification, then it has to think about the effect of the final product as well.

ISO 14000 standards take into consideration both the immediate environment of the processing as well as disposal of the finished product after it is no longer of any use (life cycle of the product).

The ISO 14000 family is also categorized into seven key standards and among them, ISO 14001 is a core standard that focuses on Specification of Environmental Management Systems.

The difference between ISO 14000 and ISO 9000 can sometimes be confusing and may seem similar.

The standards led by ISO 9000 are mainly about quality management whereas ISO 14000 sets guidelines about every business practice for maintaining minimum effect on the environment.

What is ISO 26000?

ISO 26000 was released in 2010 and it was most recently reviewed in 2017. Several countries and international brands have adopted ISO 26000 standards to contribute significantly towards sustainable development.

Countries like the US, Canada, Germany, etc. have adopted ISO 26000 as their national standard and big companies like Starbucks also follow the guidelines of this standard.

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ISO 26000 doesn’t give any certification; it is a set of principles that a body can follow to become socially more responsible.

ISO 26000 can be followed by any company, government bodies, private and public sectors. Since ISO 26000 is voluntary, companies following it will receive more recognition for becoming socially responsible voluntarily.

The final draft of the ISO 26000 that was published in 2010 took five years of continuous discussions and amendments to finalize.

The representatives who contributed towards the draft of ISO 26000 came from various backgrounds (industry, government, labor, NGO, consumer, and SSRO).

Both developed and developing countries have adopted ISO 26000 in the last decade. There are seven key principles of ISO 26000.

They are accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, stakeholder interest, rule of law, international norms of behavior, and human rights.

Companies that require a social license to operate should follow ISO 26000 as it makes the procedure easier.

Main Differences Between ISO 14000 and ISO 26000

  1. ISO 14000 is a set of guidelines to achieve environment-friendly objectives whereas ISO 26000 has certain guidelines and principles regarding social responsibility.
  2. ISO 14000 was introduced in 1996 whereas ISO 26000 was introduced in 2010.
  3. ISO 14000 certification means that the companies are using materials, processes, etc. that are environmentally friendly whereas ISO 26000 doesn’t offer any certification.
  4. ISO 14000 helps in optimizing the recycling process and therefore minimizing waste generation whereas ISO 26000 helps to become socially responsible that improves the reputation of the brand and customer engagement.
  5. For ISO 14000, from product manufacturing to product disposal everything should be environment friendly whereas there is no requirement for ISO 26000.

Last Updated : 21 July, 2023

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