Turning waste into gold with new ISO standard for environmental management accounting

by Maria Lazarte on
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dustbin full of money

How to increase productivity while reducing environmental impact?

A new ISO standard does just that, by helping business cut costs linked to waste and emissions and enhancing their environmental performance.

The standard, ISO 14051:2011, Environmental management – Material flow cost accounting – General framework, assists organizations to better understand the environmental and financial consequences of their material and energy use practices, so that they can identify opportunities for improvement.

ISO 14051:2011 establishes a management information system approach called Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA), which can be used to trace and quantify material input and output flows and stocks within an organization. The system helps identify material and energy use practices, and understand these in costs and physical terms. The information can then be applied to reduce losses and increase gains.    

Prof. Katsuhiko Kokubu, Convenor of the working group that developed the standard says, “Many organizations 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. 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.”

“The bottom line is that not only do organizations increase profits, but they improve their environmental performance and contribute to sustainable development,” concludes Prof. Kokubu.

MFCA is applicable to all industries that use materials and energy, including extractive, manufacturing, service and other industries. It can be implemented by organizations of any type and scale, with or without environmental management systems in place, in emerging economies as well as in industrialized countries.

MFCA is one of the major tools of environmental management accounting and is primarily designed for use within a single facility or organization. However, MFCA can be extended to multiple organizations within a supply chain, to help them develop and integrated approach to more efficient use of materials and energy.

ISO 14051 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management.

ISO 14051: 2011, Environmental management – Material flow cost accounting – General framework, is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 140 Swiss francs respectively through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).