19. Aug 2013

Environmental Management Systems – Revision of ISO 14001

Starting point

The International Standardization Organization (ISO) is subjecting ISO 14001, the Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS), to a revision. Work started in early 2012 will take about three years so that publication of the new Standard can probably be expected for the first half of 2015.

The revision is aimed at integrating environmental management in an organization’s business processes in a manner that is even more practice oriented, in future, so that the users can make better use of the resulting potentials.

First lessons learned

  • Present and future environmental and business issues are to be incorporated into a new catalogue of requirements even more comprehensively.
  • It is, in particular, deliberations relating to the life cycle , product design, outsourced processes as well as upstream or downstream activities that should be integrated even more.
  • More attention is paid to identifying the risks and opportunities in connection with the significant environmental aspects, applicable legal requirements and requirements accepted voluntarily. All these factors will not only have to be identified explicitly but also be considered even more when it comes to establishing the environmental objectives and targets.
  • More weight is given to measuring environmental performance relating to each environmental objective or target on the basis of performance indicators.
  • Furthermore, the requirements placed by interested parties will be identified and considered even more.
  • External communication of the organizations practising environmental management systems will have to be aligned to the environmental measures and performance even more. For in future, the performance related result of an environmental management system will also be measured against an organization’s strategic goals.

Conclusions and expectations

  • At revision work, integration of the catalogue of environmental requirements in a completely new structure for Standards is a special challenge. For this structure includes text modules as well as a new terminology. This makes it more difficult for the experts to find a consensus and can delay the revision process.
  • It is clearly identifiable that ISO has the motto to provide the companies and organizations with a uniform basic structure, including the language, in all management systems, in future, in order to eliminate unnecessary divergence, increase the integrative effects and facilitate usability.
  • The users of a revised ISO 14001 can expect that existing environmental management systems need not be transformed substantially.
  • Integration of EMS in the business processes is to be enhanced even more. Increase in environmental performance is to be demonstrated by means of indicators even more. This is to give the opportunity of increasing the significance of environmental management as a foundation for sustainability management even more.

In 1994, the International Standardization Organization (ISO) published ISO 14001 as a Standard including requirements placed on environmental management and environmental management systems for the first time. Nowadays more than 300,000 companies and organizations worldwide have environmental management systems certified acc. to ISO 14001.

Contact Person Environment and Energy

Network partner

Mr. Wolfgang Hackenauer, MSc

Network partner, Product Expert Environment and Energy

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