Successful businesses understand that it is the present that underwrites the future. Engaging with the commercial aspects of environmental issues is about the totality of ‘now’; not just managing your organization’s impacts, but taking action today that manages those impacts that will directly affect your organization and your markets.
That’s why organizations need continual, robust and wide ranging environmental management.
This new version of ISO 14001 updates and extends globally recognized requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an Environmental Management System (EMS) for any organization, regardless of type or size.
What is ISO 14001:2015?
ISO 14001:2015 is an environmental management standard. It defines a set of scope of environmental management requirements. These requirements can be found in the following sections:
ISO 14001 was first published in 1996 and updated in 2004. This third edition was published in September of 2015. It cancels and replaces all previous editions.
The purpose of this standard is to help organizations to protect the environment and to respond to changing environmental conditions. According to ISO 14001, any organization can achieve these goals if it establishes an environmental management system (EMS) and if it continually tries to improve the sustainability, adequacy, and effectiveness of this system.
Scope of the ISO 14001:2015?
ISO 14001 applies to all types of organizations. It is a generic standard and does not matter what they do or what size they are. It can help any organization to protect the environment and to respond to the changing the environmental conditions.
According to ISO 14001:2015, organization’s EMS must meet every requirement if an organization wishes to claim that it complies with this standard. However, how the organization chooses to meet ISO’s requirements will depend on and be influenced by many factors.
It will depend on organization’s context, its structure, its activities, its objectives, its compliance obligations, and its products and services. Moreover, it will also be influenced by its risks and opportunities and by its environmental aspects and impacts.
History of Environmental Management System standards
ISO 14001 has become the leading international standard for designing and implementing an Environmental Management System. The standard is published by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), an international body that creates and distributes standards that are accepted worldwide. After 11 years, the 2004 revision is being replaced with ISO 14001:2015.
In 1973, the European Community principles was published, which was actually an action plan for the application of protective cautions of environment. In 1992, the world’s first Environmental Management Systems standard was published, BS 7750. The ISO /TC 207 environment management technique committee was established in 1993 to develop the ISO 14000 family of standards.
In 1994, the TS 9719 standard (Environment management system – general features) and BS 7750 supplied the template for the development of the ISO 14000 series in 1996, by the International Organization for Standardization. In April 2005, ISO 14001 underwent its first revision and 11 years later, the second revision is published.
Alignment of ISO 14001:2015 with other standards
The new version of ISO 14001 is aligned with Annex SL, which makes it more compatible with other management systems standards like ISO 9001, ISO 22301, ISO 27001, and ISO 20000, and makes the integration even easier.
If your organization have an ISO 14001 compliant Environment Management System (EMS), then it is easy because many of the processes are the same in both systems. Companies are advised for multiple certifications that align with ISO 14001. This will assist the organization to put its processes in system.
Why has it upgraded from ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015?
All ISO management system standards are subject to a regular review under the rules by which they are written. Following a substantial user survey the committee decided that a review was appropriate and created the following objectives to maintain its relevance in today’s market place and in the future:
- Integrate with other management systems
- Provide an integrated approach to organizational management
- Reflect the increasingly complex environments in which organizations operate
- Enhance an organization’s ability to address their environmental impacts.
Why should your organization adopt Environmental Management System standard?
This is 21st century, where no organization today can afford to risk its reputation by ignoring their environmental responsibility.
- To consistently meet your environmental responsibilities overtime.
- To differentiate your company and win more business.
- To improve company performance through resource savings.
- To meet compliance objectives.
- To achieve environmental objectives.
- To enhance environmental performance.
- To facilitate and support sustainable development.
- To reduce the environmental risks.
- To implement environmental policy.
- To take advantage of the organizational opportunities.
An ISO 14001 environmental management system will help you to monitor and manage your resources and environmental impacts whether you run a single site operation or a global business.
Environmental management system helps you identify and control how your business affects the environment and helps put in place robust policies to conserve your resources and save money.
These are some of the benefits that our customers tell us they have received as a result of adopting and implementing a system that meets ISO 14001. The standard allows:
- You to become a more consistent competitor in your marketplace
- Better manage your resources and reduce waste saving money
- Comply with legislation, reducing the risk of fines and adverse publicity
- Improve your corporate responsibility to meet your supply chain requirements
- Motivate and engage staff with more efficient processes
- Broaden business opportunities by demonstrating compliance.
How to maintain a sustainable development?
An organization can maintain a sustainable development through the use of EMS in a systematic manner. Such an approach will not only contribute to the organization’s long term success but it will also support sustainable development. It will do all of this by helping an organization to:
- Prevent or reduce adverse environmental impacts.
- Implement environmentally sound practices and programs.
- Coordinate environmental initiatives with interested parties.
- Control how products are managed throughout their life cycle.
- Mitigate the adverse impact that environmental threats can have.
Comparison between the latest version of ISO 14001 with ISO 14001:2004
ISO 14001:2015 will be based on Annex SL – the new high level structure (HLS) that brings a common framework to all management systems. This helps to keep consistency, align different management system standards, offer matching sub-clauses against the top-level structure and apply common language across all standards.
With the new standard in place, organizations will find it easier to incorporate their environmental management system into the core business processes and get more involvement from senior management.
Figure 1: Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle
Based on Annex SL, Fig. 1 shows how the clauses of the new high level structure could also be applied the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. The PDCA cycle can be applied to all processes and to the environmental management system as a whole.
Moving from ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015
- Context of the organization (Clause 4)
Organizations are now required to systematically take into account the organizational context. Organizational context can be looked at as the environment in which the business operates. Now the organization’s will need to consider which internal and external factors can influence the environmental goals.
This will allow organizations to have a better understanding of the risks and opportunities it will encounter and to be better prepared to minimize (risks) and maximize (opportunities) in order to favor the organization’s environmental performance.
The organization will have a greater understanding of the important issues that can affect, positively or negatively the way it manages its environmental responsibilities.
Organizations are now required to take a careful look at the needs and expectations of interested parties (stakeholders). They will need to identify relevant stakeholders and understand how these can impact the EMS if their needs and expectations are not met.
Issues can be internal or external, positive or negative and include environmental conditions that either affect or are affected by the organization.
Much more detail about considering their needs and expectations, then deciding whether to adopt any of them as compliance obligations.
This is a new clause that in part addresses the depreciated concept of preventive action and in part establishes the context for the EMS. It meets these objectives by drawing together relevant external and internal issues (i.e. those that affect the organization’s ability to achieve the intended outcome(s) of its EMS) in clause 4.1 with the requirements of interested parties in clause 4.2 to help determine, amongst other elements, the scope of the EMS in clause 4.3.
It should be noted that the term ‘issue’ covers not only problems, which would have been the subject of preventive action in the previous standard, but also important topics for the EMS to address, such as any market assurance and governance goals that the organization might set for the EMS. Importantly, those issues should include not only environmental conditions that the organization affects but also those that it is affected by.
The organization is required to identify any external and internal issues that may impact the ability of their EMS to deliver its intended outcomes. These issues include any environmental condition that may affect or be affected by the organization. The organization is also required to determine the relevant needs and expectations of their relevant interested parties – i.e., those individuals and organizations that can affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by, the organization’s decisions or activities.
- Leadership (Clause 5)
Top management is now required to demonstrate commitment and leadership to the EMS. In the new standard there is no such a thing as a management representative, now everyone is required to commit in a number of specified ways.
In ISO 14001:2004, organizations were required to commit, among other things, to reducing negative environmental impacts. Now, the new standard goes further by requiring organizations to also aim at having a positive impact and improve environmental conditions.
This clause places requirements on ‘top management’ which is the person or group of people who directs and controls the organization at the highest level.
The purpose of these requirements is to demonstrate leadership and commitment by leading from the top and wherever possible integration of environmental management into business processes.
A particular responsibility of top management is to establish the environmental policy, and the standard defines the characteristics and properties that the policy is to include. This can include
commitments specific to an organization’s context beyond those directly required, such as the ‘protection of the environment’. Finally the clause places requirements on top management to assign and communicate the roles, responsibilities and authority for those who facilitate effective EMS.
Top management are required to demonstrate that they engage in key EMS activities as opposed to simply ensuring that these activities occur. This means there is a need for top management to be actively involved in the operation of their EMS and be accountable for its results.
The removal of references to the role of “management representative” reinforces the requirement to see the EMS embedded into strategic and operational ‘business as usual’, rather than it being operated as an independent system in its own right, with its own specific management structure and processes.
- Planning (Clause 6)
Clause 6 presents the greatest area of change for users of earlier versions of the standard. It works with Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 to complete the new way of dealing with preventive actions. It focuses the organization on the development and use of a planning process (rather than a procedure) to address both a range of factors and the risk associated with such factors.
The organization must evidence that they have determined, considered and, where deemed necessary, taken action to address any risks and opportunities that may impact (either positively or negatively) their EMS´s ability to deliver its intended outcomes. Whilst references to ‘preventive action’ have disappeared the core concept of identifying and addressing potential mistakes before they happen very much remains.
The term life cycle has been included many times more in the new standard than in the 2004 revision. While in the last version, organizations were not required to consider the life cycle of products or services for the identification of environmental impacts, the new one does.
Organizations are now required to take a life cycle perspective when identifying and evaluating environmental aspects. For example, procurement, designed, transportation and disposal activities will now need to be considered. The purpose of this life cycle perspective is to contribute to sustainable development and prevent negative environmental impacts from shifting through the life cycle of a product or service.
The standard is now more specific regarding the evaluation of environmental performance. Organizations are required to use quantitative data in the evaluation process.
- Support (Clause 7)
This clause begins with a requirement that organizations shall determine and provide the necessary resources to establish, implement, maintain and continually improve the EMS. Simply expressed, this is a very powerful requirement covering all EMS resource needs.
The clause continues with requirements for competence, and awareness, which are similar to their counterparts in ISO 14001:2004. Finally, there are the requirements for ‘documented information’.
‘Documented information’ is a new term that replaces the references in the 2004 standard to ‘documents’ and ‘records’. These requirements relate to the creation and updating of documented information and their control. The requirements are similar to their counterparts in ISO 14001:2004 for the control of documents and for the control of records.
Communication with interested parties plays an important role in an effective EMS. The organization needs to be sure that the information provided is consistent with the information generated within the EMS, that is ‘that the organization is telling it ‘as it is’.
According to this new version, organizations are required to communicate externally relevant information regarding the EMS. This should be done following a communication process that the organization must establish.
In general, this new standard emphasizes environmental performance improvement and drives organization to focus on organizational context and relevant stakeholders. It also promotes risk based thinking and a life cycle perspective.
- Operation (Clause 8)
This clause deals with the execution of the plans and processes that enable the organization to meet their environmental policy and objectives. There are new, more specific requirements that relate to the control or influence exercised over outsourced processes.
A potentially larger change is the new broader requirement to consider certain operational aspects ‘consistent with a life cycle perspective’. This means giving serious consideration to how actual or potential environmental impacts happening upstream and downstream of an organization’s site are influenced or (where possible) controlled.
The organization needs to
- ensure that products are designed in an environmentally friendly manner,
- determine environmental requirements on products and services to be purchase and communicate them to the organization’s suppliers, and
- provide relevant information to customers and users. There is no need however to carry out a formal and thorough life cycle assessment.
- Performance Evaluation (Clause 9)
This covers much of what was in clause 4.5 of the previous standard. As a general recommendation, determine what information is needed to evaluate the environmental performance and the effectiveness of the EMS.
Work backwards from this ‘information need’ to determine what to measure and monitor, when, who and how. Organizations should also revisit their audit programme in particular to ensure that it meets the new requirements.
- Improvements (Clause 10)
Due to the new structure and risk focus of the standard, there are no specific requirements for preventive actions in this clause. However, there are some new more detailed corrective action requirements. The first is to react to nonconformities and take action, as applicable, to control and correct the nonconformity and deal with the consequences.
The second is to determine whether similar nonconformities exist, or could potentially occur elsewhere in the organization, leading to appropriate corrective actions across the whole organization if necessary. Although the concept of preventive action has evolved there is still a need to consider potential nonconformities, albeit as a consequence of an actual nonconformity. The requirement for continual improvement has been extended to ensure that the suitability and adequacy of the EMS as well as its effectiveness are considered in the light of enhanced environmental performance.
This has been an issue in the previous editions of ISO 14001. Organizations have been required to improve their EMS in order to improve their environmental performance. Now, it has been recognized that these are two independent improvement actions; environmental performance can be improved by simply operating an EMS, it is not dependent on the EMS itself being improved.
Certification step of ISO 14001:2015
If your organization wants to implement ISO 14001, and gain certification for an environmental management system (EMS) based on the standard, you might be overwhelmed with figuring out where to start.
Going through the certification can be a hassle. To help you with this task, Nepal Realistic Solution can assist you with the following 13 steps needed to make sure that nothing is missed during your implementation and preparations for certification.
- Obtain management support
Management support is critical. Without this support your implementation of ISO 14001 will be rigid. You need to have a good sales pitch to convince your management that ISO 14001 is a good idea, and if you need some help regarding convincing your management team, then you can contact Nepal Realistic Solution.
Our team specializes in management certification and they can easily persuade your management team because this certificate is for the betterment of the company and its stakeholders.
- Identify legal requirements
Making sure that you have identified the legal and other requirements for your EMS is another crucial step to make sure your implementation succeeds.
- Define EMS scope
To ensure you know the limits of what needs to be done, you need to define the scope of your EMS. This helps prevent the inclusion of areas of your business that might not have an effect on the environment. The key tools to define the scope are the environmental policy and environmental aspects (the interaction you have with the environment); these are the first documents you will need to create for the EMS.
- Define EMS procedures and processes
These will include the processes and procedures you will identify as necessary to ensure consistent and adequate results when preventing negative environmental impacts and to respond to emergency situations.
Implement EMS procedures and processes
Often, these processes will be linked to the processes that are already in place at your organization, such as the tracking of waste from your facility. Since not all processes need to be documented procedures, it is important to decide which ones must be documented in order to prevent environmental damage.
- Perform training and awareness
Employees should have training on what ISO 14001 is and why you are doing this, in addition to training for any changes to the processes they are involved in. It is important that everyone in your organization knows what you are doing with your EMS and how they fit into the equation.
Awareness programme can be organized by Nepal Realistic Solution who will assist you and your employees to better understand the ISO 14001.
- Choose a certification body
The certification body is the company that will ultimately come in to audit your EMS processes for compliance with ISO 14001 requirements, as well as whether the system is effective and improving.
Nepal Realistic Solution is associated with a number of international certifying bodies. We have helped our clients get certified from renowned companies. You can contact us for further assistance.
- Operate the EMS; measure and keep records
This is when you will collect the records that will be required during an audit to show that your processes meet the requirements set out for them. The records also show that the processes are effective and that improvements are being made in your EMS as needed.
Certification bodies will identify a certain length of time for this to happen in order to ensure that the system is mature enough to show compliance.
- Perform internal audits
The certification body will want you to audit each process internally before they come in to do the certification audit. This will give you a chance to make sure that the processes are doing what you had planned, and if not, you will have a chance to fix any problems that you find.
NRS has qualified auditors that can conduct the audit for you. The other facility that we offer is that we organize Internal Auditor Training for your employees who can conduct the audit for you company.
- Perform management review
Just as important as the support that management gives for the implementation of ISO 14001, is the involvement of management in the continued maintenance of the EMS. In order to ensure that the processes have adequate resources to be effective and improve, management needs to review specified data from the activities of the EMS and react to that data appropriately.
- Implement corrective actions
In order to fix problems and improve the system, you need to use corrective actions to find the root cause of any problems found and take action to correct that root cause. These problems can be identified during your measurements, internal audits, and management review.
12-1) Certification audit – Stage 1
Here the certification body will review your documentation to verify that, on paper, that you have addressed all the necessary requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. The auditors will issue a report outlining where you comply and where there are problems, so that you have a chance to implement any corrective actions to address the problems.
12-2) Certification audit – Stage 2
During this main audit the certification body auditors will perform the on-site audit where they will review the records you have accumulated by operating your EMS processes, including your records of internal audits, management review, and corrective actions. After this audit, done over several days, they will issue a report detailing their findings and whether they have found your EMS to be effective and in compliance with the ISO 14001 requirements.
The auditors will also make a recommendation for certification if you meet all requirements; however, if you have any major non-conformances then you will need to resolve the corrective action for these problems before certification can be recommended.
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