ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System, continually improving

From global market leaders to smaller start-ups, ISO 14001 is the environmental standard of choice for over 300,000 organizations spread across 170+ countries. Recognized around the globe, ISO 14001 helps organizations reduce their environmental impact while growing their

business – ultimately achieving sustainable success.


As an internationally accepted standard, it outlines the most effective ways to put a successful environmental management system (EMS) in place. The standard was developed to help organizations build resilience by remaining commercially successful without overlooking their environmental responsibilities. The publication of ISO 14001:2015 in September 2015 is the final stage in the revision process of the standard. This version replaces ISO 14001:2004, though there is a 3 year transition period. Updated to reflect the high level framework in 2015, ISO 14001 allows businesses to meet increasingly demanding expectations from customers and other stakeholders, as well as regulatory requirements.



"Certification helps you stand out from the competition. It shows existing and potential customers your commitment to complying with environmental standards and supports you in reducing the environmental impact of daily operations."

So what's new?


STRUCTURE AND TERMINOLOGY


ISO 14001:2015 adopts the High Level Structure specified in ISO Annex SL which is now the required framework for all new and revised Management System Standards. Benefits from utilizing the Annex SL structure are:

  • Environmental Management Systems (EMS) requirements are presented in a more consistent, rational manner and not just simply offer a template for the elements of an organization’s EMS

  • The final version of ISO 14001 is aligned with other management systems standards (i.e. ISO 9001)

  • Updated terminology and definitions, some in common with other Management Systems Standards.

EMERGING CHANGES


The ISO team responsible for the revision process (subcommittee ISO/TC 207/SC1) has identified the following emerging changes as a result of their revision:

  1. Strategic Environmental Management

  2. Leadership

  3. Protecting the environment

  4. Environmental performance

  5. Lifecycle thinking

  6. Communication

  7. Documentation

You can find our brief analysis on each of the changes below.


1. Strategic Environmental Management

There is a new requirement to understand the context of the organization determining external and internal issues relevant to the organization and the environment. Particular focus is on the needs and expectations of interested parties that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. In this context the organization shall identify risk associated with threats

and opportunities, significant environmental aspects and compliance obligations, and determine actions to address them within the EMS.


2. Leadership

A new clause has been added with specific responsibilities for Top Management to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to environmental management. Top Management may delegate this responsibility to others but retaining accountability.


3. Protecting the environment

Environmental Policy shall include a commitment to the “protection of the environment”. There is no definition about “protection” but there is a note stating that it includes “prevention of pollution” and “other” commitments such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. The specific commitment of the organization should be relevant to its context.


4. Environmental performance

The emphasis is on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. Now continual improvement is to enhance environmental performance. The organization shall determine criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using appropriate indicators.


5. Lifecycle thinking

Organizations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts from raw material acquisition/generation to end-of-life treatment. This does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment (LCA), just thinking carefully about the stages of product/ service that can be controlled or influenced.


6. Communication

Emphasis on internal and external communication, and equal treatment of both has been added. What, when, how to communicate is up to the organization. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organization whilst always considering its compliance obligations. Consistent and reliable communications are required.


7. Documentation

The term ‘documented information’, is used instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. The organization has the flexibility to determine when ‘procedures’ are needed. Any format (paper, cloud, etc.) would be valid.


In South Africa, many people choose to get ISO Certified through the South African Bureau of Standards. The South African Bureau of Standards has a proven track record, having worked with over 5 000 companies, from small and medium sized businesses to big companies and have been in business for more than 70 years. SABS is accredited by the South African National Accreditation Scheme (SANAS) as a certification body by the Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) for FSSC and OHSMS and is recognized as a leader in certification quality assurance services.


If you have any immediate questions relating to the ISO 14001:2015 Certification, training courses (Annex SL, ISO 14001, Risk-Based Thinking, Empowering Leadership), Gap Analysis or need assistance, For more information, please contact our offices.












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