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SWOT Analysis of the Application of International Standard ISO 14001 in the Chinese Context. A Case Study of Guangdong Province

Marco Pesce (), Chenyi Shi (), Andrea Critto (), Xiaohui Wang () and Antonio Marcomini ()
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Marco Pesce: Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Chenyi Shi: School of Greography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
Andrea Critto: Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Xiaohui Wang: EHS Center, Lingnan College, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
Antonio Marcomini: Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 9, 1-19

Abstract: Industry has long been one of the most important drivers of Chinese economic growth. In order to improve the environmental footprint of industrial areas, Chinese authorities have established mechanisms of environmental control in the internal management processes of companies. In this regard, the international standard ISO 14001 for environmental management systems is the management tool that has had widest adoption among Chinese companies since its creation in 1996. The main purposes of the paper are to investigate the available international and national statistics on the adoptionof ISO 14001 in China, and present opinions on ISO 14001 of the 72 representatives of small and medium enterprises and multinational companies of Guangdong province that participated to the workshop “New tools and standards to advance and measure corporate sustainability”, held in Guangzhou on 26 January 2018. The analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) was adopted as the research method to collect opinions on the ISO 14001 standard. Participants were asked to discuss strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities considering four business aspects: sustainability, internal processes, stakeholder engagement, and resource management. Our findings indicate that companies fully embraced ISO 14001 and recognized the necessity of a standardized approach to identify environmental aspects. On the other hand, they also expressed concern about aspects such as the certification cost, the focus on certification itself and not on the improvement of environmental performance, and the lack of integration with sustainability tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) and other sustainability paradigms such as circular economy and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Keywords: ISO 14001; ISO 14001:2015; environmental management systems; environmental management; corporate sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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