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ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001:2015 is the international standard that specifies the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS) – a framework for an organisation to control the environmental impacts of its activities, products and services, and to continually improve its environmental performance.

ISO 14001 has undergone a revision and the new, updated Standard was published in September 2015. ISO 14001:2015 requires businesses to adopt a more strategic, integrated, and holistic approach when implementing and managing an EMS.

The Standard enables businesses to remain commercially successful without overlooking their environmental responsibilities, and applies to those environmental aspects that the organisation can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence.

Globally, there are now over 301,000 ISO 14001 registrations, 8,917 of which are in North America.

Although North America holds just 3% of the world’s total ISO 14001 registrations. Registrations have increased over the long-term, albeit at a much slower rate than the rest of the world.

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ISO 14001 is applicable to any organization that wishes to:

  • Implement, maintain, and improve an EMS
  • Assure itself of its conformance with its stated environmental policy
  • Demonstrate such conformance to others
  • Seek certification of its environmental management system by an external organization
  • Make a self-determination and self-declaration of conformance with this international standard

What are the benefits of using ISO 14001?

Implementing an ISO 14001-compliant EMS will help your organization:

  • Reduce waste management expenses
  • Save in energy and material consumption
  • Lower distribution costs
  • See corporate reputational benefits
  • Gain a competitive advantage and the ability to win contracts
  • Improve compliance and corporate risk management
  • Improve stakeholder relationships and customer trust

ISO 14001:2015: a summary of the changes

  • The introduction of Annex SL, a common framework to all management systems
  • A stronger emphasis on embedding sustainability into the organization and demonstrating leadership in the EMS
  • A life cycle approach to procurement, design, and the delivery of products and services
  • The inclusion of risks associated with threats and opportunities of external conditions
  • Improved engagement with interested parties and other forms of communication
  • An emphasis on data quality and assurance

Why have changes to ISO 14001 been introduced?

Changes have been introduced to:

  • Bring the Standard in line with changes in technology and business practices
  • Incorporate a common format (Annex SL) to make implementation easier
  • Facilitate a better understanding of environmental impacts and risks
  • Enable a better response to external conditions (e.g. adapting to climate change or resource availability)
  • Support improved planning by reducing threats and increasing opportunities.
  • Integrate the EMS into the business, thereby avoiding a tick-box approach

ISO 14001 Certification

Accredited certification to ISO 14001 demonstrates that you have implemented best practice. According to the latest ISO Survey, there are more than 300,000 certifications to the Standard in more than 170 countries around the world.

Transitioning requirements for ISO 14001:2015

Companies are now expected to start aligning with the new standard and to bring their practices into line with the latest requirements. A three-year transition period to ISO 14001:2015 has been set by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).


Integration with other management system standards

ISO 14001 follows Annex SL, which sets out the high-level structure, core text for sub-clauses and requirements, and a number of common terms and core definitions for newer ISO management system standards.

Organizations that have implemented or are certified to any of the other Annex SL ISO management system standards – such as ISO 9001, ISO 22301 and ISO 27001 – should have many of the components common to most management systems in place. Expanding the management system scope to address environmental issues and the environment-specific requirements in ISO 14001:2015 should then be relatively straightforward.

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Key resources for your ISO 14001 project

ISO 14001 EMS Requirements

ISO/IEC 14001:2015 specifies the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS) – a framework for an organization to control the environmental impacts of its activities, products, and services, and continually improve its environmental performance. It supersedes ISO 14001:2004.

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ISO 14001 Step by Step - A Practical Guide

This book provides practical advice on how to achieve compliance with ISO 14001:2015. This guide takes a step-by-step approach, and provides many sample documents to help you understand how to record and monitor your organisation’s EMS processes.

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ISO 14001 Toolkit

In order for organizations to prove their compliance with the ISO 14001 Standard, appropriate documentation is required. Development of that documentation can be a significant undertaking, especially for larger and more complex organisations. This toolkit includes all the tools, documentation and direction needed to streamline your implementation project.

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ISO 14001 Toolkit Bolt-on

The ISO 14001 Bolt-on has been designed to be added to your existing ITGP ISO 9001:2015 QMS and/or ISO 27001:2013 ISMS documentation toolkits without unnecessarily duplication of documents.

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