ISO 14001: 2015 Environment Management System (EMS)

ISO 14001:2015 specifies the requirements for an environmental management system that an organization can use to enhance its environmental performance. ISO 14001:2015 is intended for use by an organization seeking to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner that contributes to the environmental pillar of sustainability.

ISO 14001:2015 is applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type and nature, and applies to the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services that the organization determines it can either control or influence considering a life cycle perspective. ISO 14001:2015 does not state specific environmental performance criteria.

The Six Biggest Changes in the Revised ISO 14001:2015

Major proposed changes:

1. Understanding the Organization and its context. This element requires the organization to identify its context by determining the following, as relevant to the EMS:

  • External circumstances – political, regulatory, international, national, etc.
  • Internal characteristics – i.e., strategic direction, culture, capabilities
  • Environmental conditions that could affect the organization – climate, natural resource availability, etc.

2. Understanding the Needs of Interested Parties. This requires the organization to determine:

  • Interested parties. Who are they?
  • What are their needs and expectations?

Interested parties would include regulatory agencies, and their needs and expectations would be the legal requirements, or referred to as “compliance obligations,” in the new standard.

3. Leadership and Commitment. The new standard emphasizes leadership, and wants top management to demonstrate its commitment to the EMS. While no documentation is required, auditors will be looking for evidence to show conformance to these requirements.

4. Actions to address Risks and Opportunities. This element requires the determination of risks and opportunities surrounding “context” and interested parties as per Items 1 and 2, above. Warning: This will take some thought.

5. Environmental Aspects of Products. When identifying environmental aspects, the new standard will ask the organization to identify aspects associated with products from a life cycle perspective, and include the life cycle stages that it controls or has influence over. This element may necessitate environmental controls associated with design, use, end of life and disposal.

6. Operational Controls. There is a healthy list of operational controls an organization must implement, including several new ideas:

  • Controls for the design and development of product life cycle stages
  • Consideration of potential significant impacts on product delivery, use, end of life and disposal
  • Environmental requirements for purchasing

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