ISO 14001 family clearly defines aspects of operations management and environmental protection. Two relevant standards are ISO 14001:2004, which specifies the requirements that must be met in order to demonstrate environmental protection and ISO 14004:2004, which provides general guidelines for implementation in specific industrial sectors. Other standards are related to specific aspects of the environment in terms of labeling, performance evaluation, life cycle analysis, communication and surveillance etc.
Environmental Management System ISO 14001
Environmental Management System based on ISO 14001 is a management tool that enables organizations of any type or size:
- Identification and control of environmental impacts as a result of our activities, products or services,
- Continuously improving our own environmental impact and
- Implement a systematic approach to identification, implementation and improvement to achieve environmental objectives, plans and programs.
How does it work?
ISO 14001 does not specify levels of environmental performance, which is not intention of the standard, because those levels are specific to individual businesses, industry sectors and the like.
Many other ISO standards cover various environmental aspects. The purpose of ISO 14001 standards is to provide a framework for comprehensive strategic approach to organizational environmental policies, plans and activities. ISO 14001:2004 sets the generic requirements related to environmental management system.
Regardless of the activities of individual organizations, the requirements of an effective environmental management system are the same – to set the base for fulfillment of: standard requirements, regulatory laws and regulations, expectations of customers and suppliers as well as owners and shareholders.
Because ISO 14001:2004 does not specify levels of environmental performance, standard can be implemented by various organizations, regardless of their current level of environmental maturity. However, it requires a commitment of the organization to fulfill applicable environmental laws and regulations, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement, in accordance with a environmental management system framework.
What is achieved by applying this standard?
ISO 14001 is a tool that can be used to achieve internal goals:
- provide assurance to Management that it is in control of the organizational processes and activities having an impact on the environment,
- assure employees that they are working for an environmentally responsible organization.
ISO 14001 can be used to achieve external goals:
- compliance with all applicable environmental laws provides assurance to shareholders, customers, suppliers, regulatory agencies that organization is environmentally conscientious,
- compliance with environmental laws and environmental regulations and regulators, and
- support the organization’s claims and communication about its own environmental policies, plans and actions.