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Maybe winning is their next task // Honda get ISO certification and raise their environmental profile

Published by Christine Blachford

Honda recently announced that they have achieved ISO 14001 certification, something that the entire Honda brand is working towards. ISO’s have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I can see the hard work that goes into them, but I’ve never really understood the concept. I did some introductory work on ISOs for a small business, and from what I could tell it was all about putting systems in place, and not really about achieving anything. As long as you’ve got a flow chart, it doesn’t really matter what happens afterwards.

I may be completely wrong on this, but the official ISO 14001 site can’t even clarify. It says [emphasis mine]:

ISO 14001:2004 does not specify levels of environmental performance. If it specified levels of environmental performance, they would have to be specific to each business activity and this would require a specific EMS standard for each business. That is not the intention.

I can understand the logic, of course, but if you’re not setting specific targets, I don’t see how you can measure the environmental efforts of a company. What this says to me is that Honda have managed to make themselves an officially green team (although they did that with the shorts!) without actually having to meet any green targets.

Nick and Ross with an award

The fact I can’t tell what the ISO is all about doesn’t mean that Honda aren’t doing anything, of course. In the press release, Nick Fry talked about some of the efforts they’re making. They include management training about environmental issues, cutting down CO2 emissions, and of course, the earthdreams initiative. Fry says:

Contrary to popular belief, the fuel that we use to race and test our cars forms around only 1% of our CO2 emissions footprint. The vast majority is from power use at our factory and air transportation of people and equipment around the world. This gives us some formidable challenges to reduce our consumption but we intend to see the same technology and ingenuity that we deploy on our F1 car to make a worthwhile contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions.

- Nick Fry

This raises a curious question. On Honda’s own website, they say that the factories in Japan have been ISO certified since 1999. I wonder why it’s taken so long for it to reach this country.

Anyway, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from Honda at all. It’s an achievement, and a well deserved one, as we are constantly hearing about their efforts to improve their sizeable eco-footprint. The next step is to stop talking about it and actually show us some of the things they have achieved.

Possibly the most interesting part of this story, however, comes from its timing. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Jenson Button had bought a couple of planes from Honda in the aims of setting up his own chartered airline in the next few years. Chartered airlines? Honda? In the same sentence? That’s about as un-environmentally friendly as you can get.

[Aside: The above is an official Honda picture. We haven’t messed with it at all, except to add the copyright credit. I can only assume that Honda wanted to cut down on the energy used in travelling, and allowed a cardboard cut-out of Nick Fry to attend the certificate presentation, rather than the man himself.]




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