Environmental Management (ISO 14001) and Regulatory Compliance
ISO 14001 is an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS). It helps organizations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, gaining a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders.
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
Should I be certified to ISO 14001 ?
Accredited certification to ISO 14001 is not a requirement, and organizations can reap many of the benefits from using the standard without going through the accredited certification process.
However, third-party certification – where an independent certification body audits your practices against the requirements of the standard – is a way of signalling to your buyers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you have implemented the standard properly. What’s more, for some organizations, it helps to show how they meet regulatory or contractual requirements.
Organizations using ISO 14001 have found success across a range of areas, including reduced energy and water consumption, a more systematic approach to legal compliance and an improved overall environmental performance.
How do I get started with ISO 14001:2015 ?
A number of resources, including The ISO 14001 checklist for small business, provide detailed guidance on how to use the standard, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Tip 1 – Define your objectives. What do you want to achieve with this standard ?
- Tip 2 – Get the buy-in from senior management. It is essential that the leaders of your organization support the objectives of an effective environmental management system and are committed to the process.
- Tip 3 – Get a good overview of existing processes and systems that are relevant to your environmental impact. This will form the basis of your environmental management system and allow you to more easily identify any gaps.
Other standards in the family that might help
The ISO 14000 family comprises a number of standards that complement ISO 14001, some of which are listed below.
- ISO 14004 provides guidance on the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an environmental management system and its coordination with other management systems.
- ISO 14006 is intended to be used by those organizations that have implemented an environmental management system in accordance with ISO 14001, but can help integrate eco-design into other management systems.
- ISO 14064-1 specifies principles and requirements at the organizational level for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removal.