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New ISO boosts profits through material and energy use tracking

The International Organization for Standardization has developed a new standard, ISO 14051:2011, designed as a management information system to help businesses cut costs linked to waste and emissions while enhancing their environmental performance.

Developed by the ISO/TC 207 technical committee, ISO 14051:2011, Environmental management – Material flow cost accounting – General framework assists organisations to better understand the environmental and financial consequences of their material and energy use practices, so that they can identify opportunities for improvement.

The Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) system can be used to trace and quantify material input and output flows and stocks within an organisation. Companies can identify material and energy use practices, and understand these in costs and physical terms, applying the information to “reduce losses and increase gains”.

“Many organisations are unaware of the full extent of the cost of their material losses because this data is often difficult to extract from conventional information, accounting and environmental management systems,” says Professor Katsuhiko Kokubu, convenor of the working group that developed the standard.

“MFCA produces such precise and clear data that it can motivate managers to enhance material productivity and significantly reduce unnecessary waste far more effectively than through conventional means.”

In addition to increasing their profits, Prof. Kokubu adds that organisations can improve their environmental performance and contribute to sustainable development.

MFCA is applicable to all industries that use materials and energy, including extractive, manufacturing, service and other industries.

It can be implemented by organisations of any type and scale, with or without environmental management systems in place, in emerging economies as well as in industrialised countries.

ISO 14051:2011, Environmental management – Material flow cost accounting – General framework is available from ISO national member institutes, and may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, priced 140 Swiss francs.