September 19, 2016
Standardization defines many aspects of our lives – for example it contributes to harmonizing our technical processes across the world. The Deutsche Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization – DIN), for example, defines standard sizes for letter formats – the so-called DIN standard. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is its international counterpart and sets internationally applicable standards: from the PDF format following ISO standard, over standardized sizes for container loads and up to bank cards that can be used all over the world. More than 18,000 of such standards not only make international trade easier, but also support many people in their every-day lives.
The beginning of September, Dr. Peter Saling, Director Sustainability Methods, BASF, has been appointed as president of an ISO committee that exclusively handles holistic environmental management issues. Representatives from more than 60 countries advocated his appointment beforehand. “It is a special honor for us, to take on the chair and collaborate with ISO as a partner” says Saling, who has experience of working in this field at BASF and in various working groups.
All ISO standards are developed by experts from industry, consumer protection, science, non-governmental organizations and policy makers in one joint international committee. The idea is to create a unified guideline that is internationally acceptable. Years can go by before a standard is actually enforced.
It is important that environmental compatibility is evaluated following the same global criteria. That is why there is a special series of standards for environmental management issues, ISO 14000. Among other things, this family regulates standards for environmental accounting. Life Cycle Assessment can be used as a tool to evaluate the impact products have on the environment. This is done systematically, throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, from production to use and disposal. International standards define which steps are part of this analysis and thus make the results comparable. For BASF this is an important instrument, to focus products as well as research and development of new products on the future.
“Many standards directly affect BASF. We advocate that all aspects are taken into account in a balanced way,” says Saling.