Corporate Environmental Policy Statements in Mainland China: To What Extent Do They Conform to ISO 14000 Documentation?
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For decades, industry has been the main source of pollution in China. Determined to make changes, the mainland Chinese authorities have decided to promote mechanisms that incorporate environmental concerns into the internal management of enterprises. This is manifested in the rapid adoption of the ISO14000 standards, including a significant increase in ISO14001 registrations in China. Thus, this study examined the environmental policy statements of 106 certified facilities in mainland China against a strict interpretation of the mandatory requirements of the ISO 14001:1996 standard and the nonmandatory ISO14004 requirements in order to shed some light on the implementation of environmental management systems in an emerging economic giant. It was decided to analyze the environmental policy statement because such a statement is a core element in the ISO system of environmental management of each facility and there are relatively clear and specific requirements on what an environmental policy statement shall include. An analysis of the contents of the environmental policy statements shows that conformance to the relevant requirements of both the mandatory ISO14001 standard and the nonmandatory ISO14004 standard is far from impressive and that the facilities in our sample seldom went beyond the minimum requirements. By using ISO14001 and ISO14004 conformance scores as the dependent variables, we found that conformity to ISO14001 and overall conformance to ISO14000 series can be explained to some extent by the degree of top management commitment, the experience with informal environmental management systems, and the form of ownership of the facilities.