This month we are going to discuss ISO 14001 Environment Management. ISO 14001, the world’s most popular standard for environmental management is being reviewed and the new revision should become
available by the end of this year. The standard is being updated from an environmental management perspective but they now use a ‘High Level Structure’ which is common to all new and revised ISO
standards going forward.
The revision will take into consideration a number of issues to ensure organisations are able to grow in a sustainable way.
In order for organisations to be able to integrate the new requirements into their existing EMS, Logic Business Resource recommend organisations to familiarise themselves with the upcoming standard as soon as possible.
The first crucial change concerns the structure of the ISO-Standard. When it comes to the integration of multiple standards, this unified structure will considerably facilitate the implementation process.
The High Level Structure will consist of:
- Normative References
- Terms and Definitions
- Context of the Organisation
- Performance Evaluation
On the structural level, a separate section on preventive measures is significantly absent. The new standard no longer thinks of preventive measures as a separate topic, but rather as a central component
of all environmental-related activities.
Another general change concerns the procedure to determine conformity of the management-system with the ISO-standard. The control and evaluation of conformity is to become a continuous task, in order to prevent non-conformities in the earliest possible stage.
Finally, small and medium sized companies will be happy to learn that the committee has gone to great lengths to improve the readability and user-friendliness of the standard.
For most companies, adopting the new criteria should not pose significant problems. Many of the changes were already implicitly present in the current version of the standard and have now been articulated more formally and specifically in the upcoming version. These changes include, but are not limited to:
- The impact of external factors and of the context of the organisation upon environmental goals has gained significance. Organisations will be expected to systematically take these into account.
- The implementation of an EMS is the full responsibility of top management. Top management will be expected to determine quantitative data for the strategic planning of its core business in relation to the environment. As far as environmental policy is concerned, organisations should not only commit to the reduction of negative influence upon the environment, but also aspire to have positive impact. Thus, a successful EMS not only aims at an environmental status-quo, but works to actively improve environmental conditions.
- In the evaluation process, product lifecycles need to be identified, but for now an appropriate evaluation-system is not a criteria of the standard.
- In the section on regulatory requirements, the topic of self-commitments is clearly more emphasized. The implementation of self-commitments is voluntary and could be put into practice by company-specific arrangements with customers, trade-associations or NGOs as an effective instrument representing the company’s strong profile in environmental issues. The wider scope of the environmental management system is also reflected in the requirements on environmental goals. Beside the internal-, the external criteria play a major role including an adequate documentation and evaluation-system.
- The requirements on environmental performance have also become more specific. Organisations will have to specify their performance in terms of quantitative data. The use of DIN EN ISO 14031 (evaluation of the environmental-achievement) and DIN EN ISO 14044 (ecobalances) as well as a combination with the ISO standard 50001 (Energy management systems) is recommended for this purpose.
- During the planning and control of the value chain the standard explicitly requires the assessment of up- and downstream processes like the transport of raw-materials at the beginning or of the disposal of waste and the end of the value chain (including consideration of the product design). This covers the definition of lifecycles for products or services and the compilation of related legal provisions as well as an adequate communication-concept including goals and documentation.