ISO 14001:2015

ISO 14001:2004, the environmental management system standard, is being revised. The updated third edition is expected in early 2015. The Committee Draft (CD) of ISO 14001:2015 was issued in October 2013. The plan is to review the CD comments, revise the text, and issue a Draft International Standard (DIS) in mid-2014.

An article in issue 44 of IRCA’s INform e-magazine identified these emerging ISO 14001 changes:

Leadership – to ensure the success of the system, a new clause has been added that assigns specific responsibilities to those in leadership roles as a way of promoting environmental management within the organization.

Protecting the environment – the expectation to commit to proactive initiatives to protect the environment has been expanded. The revision does not define ‘protect the environment’ but does note it can include sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity, and ecosystems.

Environmental performance – there’s a shift in emphasis from improving the management system to improving environmental performance. Consistent with an organization’s policy commitments it would, as applicable, reduce emissions, effluents, and waste to levels set by the company.

Lifecycle thinking – in addition to the current requirement to manage environmental aspects associated with procured goods and services, organizations will also need to extend their control and influence to the environmental impacts associated with product use and end-of-life treatment or disposal. However, this does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment.

Communication – the development of a communications strategy, with equal emphasis on external and internal communication, has been added. It includes requirements on the quality of information communicated and how to make suggestions about improving the environmental management system by people working for, or on behalf, of the organization.

Documentation – based on the evolution of computer and cloud-based systems for running management systems, the revision has incorporated the term ‘documented information’, instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’, in order to align with the common text of Annex SL and be consistent with ISO 9001. Organizations will retain flexibility in determining when ‘procedures’ are needed to ensure effective processes.

Strategic environmental management – there’s been an increased prominence of environmental management within an organization’s strategic planning processes. A requirement to understand the company’s context has been incorporated in order to identify and leverage environmentally-related organizational risks, with a particular focus on issues related to the needs and expectations of interested parties (including regulatory requirements).

This will also include local, regional, or global environmental conditions that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. Once identified as critical, actions to mitigate adverse risk or exploit beneficial opportunities will be integrated into the operational planning of the environmental management.

To view archived INform articles, go to this IRCA web page.