The quality field has traditionally maintained a fairly strict focus on business and customer issues, such as reducing defects and waste and improving efficiency, profitability and customer satisfaction.
Environmental and sustainability goals for quality initiatives are relatively recent. Because the business world is accustomed to treating environmental practices as sources of added costs, the challenge for quality practitioners is to identify where environmental and sustainability quality issues, such as reduction of waste and use of renewable energy, also serve business and customer interests.
In 2004, Larry R. Smith of Ford Motor Co. defined sustainability as “finding win/win/win solutions for both the short- and long-term effects of design on social responsibility, environmental performance and business results—the triple bottom line.”
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed an international environmental management systems standard, ISO 14001:2004. ISO estimates more than 74,000 organizations worldwide were certified to ISO 14001 by late 2004, including more than 3,800 in the United States.
The standard is currently being revised. ISO recently conducted a continual improvement survey to develop an understanding of the needs of current, past, and potential users.
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