Last edited 06 Jan 2016

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems. Requirements with guidance for use

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14000 series provides international guidance for companies on aspects of environmental management.

ISO 14001 Environmental management systems. Requirements with guidance for use, was the world’s first international environmental standard and provides guidance on environmental management systems for all aspects within the control of an organisation, from energy consumption to waste disposal. A company adhering to ISO 14001 demonstrates that environmental impacts are being considered and reduced wherever possible.

ISO 14001 is a voluntary standard aimed at helping an organisation improve its environmental performance while complying with environmental legislation. It can be used by any organisation, including the private sector, charities and the voluntary sector.

The standard is based on the 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' approach, and a general requirement of the standard is that an environmental management system should be established and continually improved and documented.

It was first published as BS 7750 in 1992. The latest revision was published on 30 September 2015, replacing the previous 2014 edition. The 2015 edition is the first major revision since 1996. It introduces a new high-level structure of terms, definitions and headings that are common across all management systems standards, making it easier for organisations to use several standards.

Other changes include:

  • Increased prominence of environmental management within the organisation's strategic planning processes.
  • Greater focus on leadership.
  • The addition of proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, such as sustainable resource use and climate change mitigation.
  • Improved environmental performance.
  • Lifecycle thinking.
  • The addition of a communications strategy.

Organisations have been given a three-year transition period from the publication date to migrate their environmental management system to the new edition. After this, companies that opt for third party certification will have to seek certification to the new version of the standard.

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