The ISO 14001 Revision – What you Need to Know

How the ISO 140001 has changed and what it means for small businesses looking to manage their environmental responsibilities

The ISO 14001 Revision – What you Need to Know

ISO 14001 is the most popular standard for environmental management, with over 250,000 organisations worldwide possessing the certificate. The ISO 14001 standard has helped businesses by giving them a better understanding of how their activities, products and services impact the environment. Just a few of the benefits of the standard include resource efficiency, improved business continuity, cost savings, improvements in supply chains and enhanced reputation and competitive advantage.

Since the standard was initially published, the perception of sustainability has evolved, and as a result the international standards committee introduced new requirements that addressed this in the 2011 revision. The revision of the ISO 14001 standard is a long process and is not expected to be published until the beginning of 2015.

Steve Williams, LRQA’s (Lloyd’s register quality assurance) Deputy Technical Director and member of the technical committee responsible for the ISO 14001 revision has discussed the different stages and the phase they are currently at in the revision process:

“The work so far on the revision process for 14001 has taken us from the working draft stage through to the first committee draft stage. As a result of that it is likely that there will be a second committee draft. This then will be subject to further review. After this, there will hopefully be a draft international standard published. Once that has been reviewed and commented on, this will then pass on to the final draft international standard stage. Once the standard has reached the final stage, it is unlikely that there will be any changes to the technical content. It is at this point that companies will be looking to see what it is that they have to do to make the transition to the new requirements.”

What organisations should do if they wish to become ISO 14001 certified?

If an organisation is interested in ISO 14001 certification or if they are already in the early stages of gaining ISO 14001 certification, then they should carry on as normal. When the standards are revised and published, a transition period is applied, allowing certified organisation ample time to adjust their procedures.

If an organisation is already underway within their design and development cycle, they may wish to proceed with the current standard but keep a close look out for any of the future requirements that will be developed.

Changes that will be made to the ISO 14001 standard:

The new structure of the ISO 14001 will have a greater emphasis on improving environmental performance. Some of the changes that will be made to the ISO 14001 standard are as follows:

  • A redraft in line with the new “high level” structure being introduced across all international management system standards.
  • Improvements to the connection between environmental management and top management’s decision making.
  • Consideration of value chain and life cycle thinking.
  • Inclusion of the environment’s impact on the organisation as well as the organisation’s impact on the environment.
  • A bigger focus on supply chain and lifecycle impacts

Once the revision has been published, all organisations will have to make a transition and adjust to the new requirements within a few years.

For more information about ISO 14001 visit QMSUK

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