What is ISO 14000?

ISO 14000 Definition

ISO 14000 is a set of international standards covering environmental management systems (EMS), environmental auditing, environmental labeling, the assessment of environmental performance and life cycle evaluation. As a follow-up to the standardization process that was started with the ISO 9000 series, the ISO 14000 series of international standards sets the outline on how organizations can integrate environmental considerations into their operations and products. It is a set of voluntary environmental management standards, guides and technical reports, which specifically concentrates on environmental management systems, operating practices, products, and services. The ISO 14000 standards do not propose environmental targets but provide organizations with the tools to evaluate the impact that their activities, products or services have on the environment.

The first standard in the ISO 14000 series, ISO 14001, provides an organization with the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS) that can easily integrate into their business management systems. This system allows an organization to take a proactive approach to environmental issues with the early identification of problems and the prospects for improvement thereby achieving higher standards of environmental performance.

ISO 14001:2015 is the latest revision of the EMS requirements standard and it was introduced on September 2015.

Changes to ISO 14001

The major changes in ISO 14001:2015 from the 2004 version of the standard are as follows:

High Level Structure (HLS) – ISO 14001:2015 has been written using the same high level structure that is shared by all new ISO management systems standards. This simplifies the integration of multiple management systems.

Increased account ability of senior management- An organization’s senior management has been more closely defined, making the Environmental Management System (EMS) more strategic and integrated into the organization’s decision-making process. Environmental and Corporate Social Responsibility managers are now expected to interact more frequently with top management.

Eco Balance approach – There is a requirement to consider the environmental impact of an organization …although there is no requirement for perform a formal impact analysis.

Rethinking impact – The revision introduces the term ‘environmental condition’, which it defines as ‘long-term environmental changes that can affect the organization’s activities, products and services, requiring adaptation’. The purpose of this is to have the organization consider what impact the environment has on them…rather than their impact on the environment.

Risks and opportunities – There is a specific requirement to demonstrate how substantial environmental risks and opportunities are managed within the supply chain. The organization will need to demonstrate that environmental matters are identified, how they interact with the organization and how those interactions are managed.

Pro-active reporting – The revision requires the organization to more systematically report environmental issues to external stakeholders and to show that they are making effective use of such environmental data.

Strengthened compliance- There is a stronger obligation to evaluate compliance – while previously there was a requirement to evaluate compliance, in the new standard, there is a need to record exactly how compliance is performed and recorded.

Continual improvement – There is less room for misunderstanding as there is now a specific requirement for continual improvement as part of a plan set by senior management.

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