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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Final ISO 14001 EMS draft standard revised

Revision to standard aims to make environmental management system future-proof

AS the world’s first and most widely adopted international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001 has helped more than 300,000 organizations improve their environmental performance.

To ensure that ISO 14001 continues to serve organizations and maintain its relevance in today’s market place, the standard has been revised and a final draft, which is the result of input from 40 experts from 25 countries, has now been published. This revision will not only address changes in environmental practices, but also ensure the environmental management system is future-proof.

This new standard seeks to address the 11 concerns identified through the ISO ‘Future Challenges Environmental Management Systems’ study, which focused on users expectations for the revision of ISO 14001. Recommendations included improving environmental performance and increasing the uptake of environmental management systems in small organizations.

An additional focus has also been placed on environmental impacts in the supply chain, particularly taking the ‘life cycle perspective’, which refers to the typical stages of a product life cycle, all of which will grow in importance as businesses expand. Looking closely at these steps will help to maintain transparency and protect the environmental health of the supply chain.

Key changes to ISO 14001 include:

  • A new high-level structure featuring terms, definitions, headings and text common to all management system standards, allowing easy integration when implementing multiple management systems
  • Increased emphasis on the role that top management has in ensuring the environmental management system (EMS) is integrated into business processes and improvement of environmental performance
  • Consideration of the risks the organization faces (for example, the price volatility of raw materials), as well as the opportunities these risks present (greater resource efficiency)
  • Focus placed on the context of the organization, helping businesses better understand their impact on the environment but, as importantly, the impact that environmental concerns (such as climate change) have on them.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) is making ISO 14001 available through Advanced Access, giving organizations a unique opportunity to view the final draft during July and to receive automatic delivery of the final standard as soon as it is available in September. There will be no technical changes to the standard after July, so organizations taking advantage of Advanced Access will get a preview of the technical content, helping to facilitate a smooth transition to the revised standard.

David Fatscher, head of market development for sustainability at BSI, said: ‘ISO 14001 puts environmental management at the heart of organizations’ operations, enabling them to meet environmental requirements, improve efficiency and environmental performance.

‘It is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful without compromising their environmental responsibilities. It provides a framework for organizations to develop whilst reducing the environmental impact of this growth, enabling users to reduce waste, save energy, increase innovation and improve corporate reputation among investors, customers and the public.

‘ISO 14001 will allow organizations to stay abreast of the changes in the environmental management arena, ensuring that they are at the crest of the information curve.’

Commenting on the revision, Nigel Leehane, chair of the BSI’s committee for Environmental Management Systems, said: ‘The objective of the new standard is to ensure that organizations address broader environmental issues than simply prevention of pollution, not just in order to reduce environmental impacts, but so that organizations benefit from improved efficiency, with the environmental management system adding real value and contributing to the environmental pillar of sustainability.’

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