ISO 14001 Environmental Management


Benefits of Implementing an Environmental Management System

The benefits of an Environmental Management System for your organisation include:

  • Strengthened stakeholder confidence – ISO 14001 reduces risk of liability, keeps ahead of legislation and regulatory developments and reduces the environmental burden through elimination, reduction and options
  • Greater competitive advantage – your organisation would achieve improved cost control, improved organisational effectiveness and image of organisation
  • More secure long term viability – environmental management standard facilitates effective management, demonstrates environmental focus and introduces change in a controlled manner
  • Employee involvement and motivation – ISO 14001 demonstrates innovation and forward thinking approach to customers and prospective employees. It clearly defines employees’ functions and establishes environmental awareness and clear methodologies
  • As ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised standard, when businesses are operating in numerous locations around the world they can register as 14001 compliant. This eliminates the need for multiple registrations or certifications. ISO 14001 can also reduce trade barriers between registered businesses.
  • Other benefits of using ISO 14001:2004 can include reduced cost of waste management, savings in consumption of energy and materials, lower distribution costs, and improved corporate image among regulators, customers and the public.
  • Other benefits of ISO 14001 include: strengthened stakeholder confidence, greater competitive advantage, more secure long term viability and employee involvement and motivation

ISO 14001

  1. 1
    Environmental Management System: ISO 14001 Background

    The ISO 14001 standard was developed to assist organisations to identify, manage and control the activities that have an environmental impact. ISO 14001 has been embraced by utility and public bodies, service organisations and industrial companies worldwide as the model for environmental management and improved performance.

    ISO 14001:2004 may be used by any organisation regardless of its sector or activity. Using ISO 14001:2004 can provide assurance to the company management and employees. It can also provide assurance to external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.

    In 1996 the ISO 14001 standard was published by ISO and was then revised in 2004 and is compatible with other standards such as the widely used ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard.

    ISO 14001:2004 has the following companion standards:

    • I.S. EN ISO 14005:2011
    • I.S. EN ISO 14004:2004
    • I.S. EN ISO 14031:2000


  2. 2
    Fundamental Elements of ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

    The critical elements of an environmental management system are:

    • Defining environmental aspects
    • Analysing relevant environmental impacts
    • Removing the impacts
    • Improving environmental performance

    The ISO 14001 states that where the organisation operates should be where the concern for the environment should be concentrated such as with air, water, land, fauna, flora and human interactions. Clearly defining and differentiating between activities, associated aspects and the resulting environmental impacts is crucial to any effective environmental management system however this causes lots of companies difficulty quite often when initially developing their system. The above aspects should be dealt with greater significance in order for a successful environmental management system.

    PDCA model applied to ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

    PlanDoCheckActThe Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA) cycle is the foundation of all ISO management system standards. The cycle ensures development, continuous improvement and control of the management system. The cycle ensures constant monitoring of the organisation’s effectiveness. It consists of the following:

    1. Plan – environmental management system implementation using of ISO 14000 guidelines
    2. Do – conducting life cycle assessment and managing environmental aspects
    3. Check – conducting audits and evaluating environmental performance
    4. Act – using and maintaining the environmental management system through continuous improvement

    ISO 14001:2004 provides a framework for a holistic, systematic and strategic approach to the organisation’s environmental policy, plans and actions. An organisation’s top management can manage environmental issues by prevention and identification of areas for cost savings in energy consumption, raw material usage and waste disposal with an effective environmental management system based on ISO 14001.

    Plan – Environmental Policy

    The first step is to define an environmental policy and to establishing good environmental performance as a strategic objective. It is important that the your organisation’s managers are driven and focused to achieve the relevant requirements.

    The management team should start with identifying operations that interact or could potentially interact with the environment in the future. The interactions can be direct or indirect. Directly such as in the manufacturing industry or indirectly such as in the primary sector like raw materials. The management team’s goals and targets have to be measurable so they can be reviewed and improved by your internal audits in order to be successful.

    Do – Implementation

    This step involves implementing the system that has been planned by the management in the previous step. Conducting a life cycle assessment and managing environmental aspects and greenhouse gases is involved in implementing an environmental management system.

    The resources and the members of your organisation that are responsible for maintaining and control of various processes that are put in place have to be defined. The members responsible for these processes have to be trained and should have documentation for all procedures and processes including operational and documentation control and emergency procedures and responses.

    Check – Auditing

    This stage involves conducting internal audits and measuring environmental performance periodically which ensures that your organisation’s targets and objectives are being met. Greenhouse gas performance also has to be measured. Your management team has to make sure that the employees responsible for various processes are monitoring and maintaining them adequately.

    The requirements limited to key process characteristics should be monitored in order to make the whole audit system more effective. If your organisation already has a quality system, the 14001 can be integrated or make reference to it.

    Corrective and preventative action documentation for various setbacks or processes is required to be presented as is the case with other management systems. The corrective and preventative action documentation emphasizes the environmental mind set the organisation needs on every level and ensures continuous incremental improvement.

    Act – Continuous Improvement

    A planned management review has to be conducted in order to ensure continuous improvement which involves:

    Evaluating audits

    • Ensuring the meeting of your organisation’s objectives and targets
    • Ensuring the meeting of ISO 14001 requirements
    • Devising improvements to the processes
    • Evaluating changing circumstances such as legal requirements

    In comparison to the quality management systems the continuous improvement process for ISO 14001 is slightly different. It includes the following aspects:

    • Expansion – more and more business areas should get covered by the implemented EMS
    • Enrichment – more and more activities, products, processes should be involved in the EMS
    • Upgrading – improvement in structure and framework of the EMS through know-how gained by the business when dealing with environmental issues

    The continuous improvement of your environmental management system should move from operational measures to a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges

  3. 3
    Key steps to getting certified for ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

    In order to get certified for ISO 14001 Environmental Management System there are a number of steps involved:


    The first step involves the application for certification

    Gap Assessment

    This is where:

    • An on-site analysis of your current system is conducted
    • This will then be assessed against the standard
    • A report is then prepared to highlight the gaps between your current system and the standard

    The gap assessment is optional and is not required for the certification process.

    Preliminary Assessment – Stage 1

    Your documentation has to be inspected and various areas have to be reviewed including:

    • The proposed scope of your registration
    • The status of implementation of your management system
    • The appropriate regulatory and legal requirements
    • Your management policies and objectives
    • Whether the system addresses the key areas of your business
    • Your site-specific activities – top level process review
    • Your key management elements, e.g. internal audits, reviews and complaints procedures
    • Your readiness to move onto Stage 2 of the assessment, the Registration Assessment

    There should be a period of several weeks between preliminary assessment and registration assessment so that any issues can be sorted in relation to the preliminary assessment. If there are major non-conformities a second preliminary assessment will have to be carried out.

     Registration Assessment – Stage 2

    This involves a full review of your management system in order to confirm that your management system is controlled. When the registration assessment is complete a notified body issues a detailed report along with the outcome which recommends registration or not. If any issues arise during the assessment you will be expected to submit an action plan which should describe what changes are to be made to the management system in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of the same issues occurring again.

    Surveillance & Re-assessment

    A notified body visits each company at least once a year to make sure the management system is being maintained and that it is achieving it’s expected outcomes. A part of the management system is reviewed in depth during each visit.There is an expiry date on the certificate and the certificate expires every three years. Before the expiry date occurs a detailed assessment of the whole management system is undertaken to ensure every element of the system is performing satisfactorily and the results of the previous visits are taken into account.

    During the registration period, changes are inevitable. In order to make sure the management system remains sound the notified body works with each registered organisation. Usually, change can be reviewed and assessed during routine surveillance visits. The notified body reserves the right to suspend or revoke certification in cases where change leads to the breakdown of the system.