ISO 14000 family – Environmental management
The ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organizations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.
ISO 14001:2015 and its supporting standards such as ISO 14006:2011 focus on environmental systems to achieve this. The other standards in the family focus on specific approaches such as audits, communications, labelling and life cycle analysis, as well as environmental challenges such as climate change.
ISO 14001:2015 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. It can be used by any organization regardless of its activity or sector.
Using ISO 14001:2015 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.
What is an environmental management system?
An environmental management system helps organizations identify, manage, monitor and control their environmental issues in a “holistic” manner. Other ISO standards that look at different types of management systems, such as ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety, all use a High-Level Structure. This means that ISO 14001 can be integrated easily into any existing ISO management system. ISO 14001 is suitable for organizations of all types and sizes, be they private, not-for-profit or governmental. It requires that an organization considers all environmental issues relevant to its operations, such as air pollution, water and sewage issues, waste management, soil contamination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resource use and efficiency
Like all ISO management system standards, ISO 14001 includes the need for continual improvement of an organization’s systems and approach to environmental concerns. The standard has recently been revised, with key improvements such as the increased prominence of environmental management within the organization’s strategic planning processes, greater input from leadership and a stronger commitment to proactive initiatives that boost environmental performance.
What benefits will it bring to my business or organization?
There are many reasons why an organization should take a strategic approach to improving its environmental performance.
Users of the standard have reported that ISO 14001 helps:
- Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements
- Increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees
- Improve company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication
- Achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management
- Provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs
- Encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization’s business systems
What are the key improvements?
ISO 14001:2015 now requires:
- Environmental management to be more prominent within the organization’s strategic direction
- A greater commitment from leadership
- The implementation of proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, such as sustainable resource use and climate change mitigation
- A focus on life-cycle thinking to ensure consideration of environmental aspects from development to end-of-life
- The addition of a stakeholder-focused communication strategy
It also allows for easier integration into other management systems thanks to the same structure, terms and definitions.