World’s first environmental management system standard ISO 14001:2015 is revised and ready for lift off

As the world’s first and most-widely adopted international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001 has helped over 300,000 organizations improve their environmental performance.

To ensure that ISO 14001 continues to serve organizations and maintain its relevance in today’s market place, the standard has been revised. A final draft, which is the result of input from 40 experts from 25 countries, has now been published. This revision will not only address changes in environmental practices, but also enable the environmental management system to be future proof.

This new standard seeks to address the 11 concerns identified through the ISO “Future Challenges Environmental Management Systems” study, which focused on users expectations for the revision of ISO 14001. Recommendations included improving environmental performance and increasing the uptake of environmental management systems in small organizations. An additional focus has also been placed on environmental impacts in the supply chain, particularly taking the ‘life cycle perspective’, which refers to the typical stages of a product life cycle, all of which will grow in importance as businesses expand. Looking closely at these steps will help to maintain transparency and protect the environmental health of the supply chain.

Some of the key changes include:

  • A new high level structure (HLS) - featuring terms, definitions, headings and text common to all management system standards, allowing easy integration when implementing multiple management systems.
  • Increased emphasis on the role that top management have in ensuring the  environmental management system (EMS) is integrated into business processes and environmental performance.
  • Consideration of the risks the organization faces (for example, the price volatility of raw materials), as well as the opportunities these risks present (greater resource efficiency).
  • Focus placed on the context of the organization, helping businesses better understand their impact on the environment but, as importantly, the impact that environmental concerns (such as climate change) have on them.

Theuns Kotze, Middle East and Africa Regional Managing Director at BSI, said: “ISO 14001 puts environmental management at the heart of organizations’ operations enabling them to meet environmental requirements, improve efficiency and environmental performance. It is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful without compromising their environmental responsibilities. It provides a framework for organizations to develop whilst reducing the environmental impact of this growth, enabling users to reduce waste, save energy, increase innovation and improve corporate reputation among investors, customers and the public. ISO 14001 will enable organizations to stay abreast of the changes in the environmental management arena, ensuring that they are at the crest of the information curve.”

Existing certification customers have three years from the date the new edition publishes, to transition from the 2008 version. BSI has developed a suite of materials, services and courses to help make the transition as smooth as possible: