Everything you need to know about ISO 14001

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is the world’s most recognised environmental management system. It provides a practical tool to help you to manage environmental responsibilities within your business operations. This can include water and sewage issues, waste management, air pollution, climate change mitigation and adaptation, soil contamination, and resource use and efficiency.

It’s appropriate for all companies, regardless of size, type and nature, and applies to the environmental aspects of your activities, products and services.

Why has ISO 14001 been revised?

All ISO standards are reviewed every five years and, if necessary, updated to ensure that they remain useful and relevant for the ever-changing business world. ISO 14001 has been revised to account for the latest trends and ensure it’s compatible with other management system standards.

What are the changes?

It now places greater prominence on environmental management within strategic planning processes to ensure that it’s completely integrated and aligned with the business strategies of your company.

Key changes include an emphasis on: leadership; risk and change management; and communication and awareness.

In addition, you’ll also need to extend control and influence on the environmental impacts associated with product design and development to address each stage of the life cycle. This may include the acquisition of raw materials, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, end-of-life treatment and final disposal.

The standard follows a common structure, which includes the same terms and definitions as other management system standards such as ISO 9001. You’ll find this especially useful if you operate an integrated management system as you’ll be able to meet the requirements of multiple management system standards simultaneously.

What benefits will it offer my business?

It will ensure that environmental management is completely integrated and aligned with the business strategies of your organisation, bringing environment and continuous improvement into the heart of your business. This will save you money as well as contributing towards helping preserve the world’s resources.

It also allows for easier integration into other management systems thanks to the standardisation of its structure, terms and definitions.

Find more detail about management systems.

What should I do?

An excellent place to start is with the ISO 14001 checklist, which gives detailed guidance on how to use the standard. In particular: define your objectives; secure commitment from senior management; and obtain a good overview of existing processes and systems that are relevant to your environmental impact.

It will also be beneficial to check the basic introduction to the ISO 14000 series of standards.

ISO, management systems and auditing can be daunting and time-consuming so please do get in touch for Absolute Quality advice.