Management Systems Inc

More business improvement stuff than you can shake a stick at

What is ISO 14001?

Posted by isoeasy on May 16, 2006

ISO 14001Environmental Management is not, as the phrase suggests, the management of the environment as such but rather the management of the humankind's interaction with and impact upon the environment. It involves the management of all components of the bio-physical environment, both living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic). This is due to the interconnected and network of relationships amongst all living species and their habitats. The environment also involves the relationships of the human environment, such as the social, cultural and economic environment with the bio-physical environment.

As with all management functions, effective management tools, standards and systems are required. An environmental management standard or system or protocol attempts to reduce environmental impact as measured by some objective criteria. The ISO 14001 standard is the most widely used standard for environmental risk management and is closely aligned to the European Eco Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS). The UK has developed a phased standard (BS8555) that can help smaller companies move to ISO 14001 in six manageable steps.

In general, the ISO 14000 series of environmental management system standards exist to help organizations:

(a) minimize how their operations (processes, etc.)impact the environment (i.e. cause adverse changes to air, water, or land);
(b) comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements, and
(c) continually improve in the above.

It specifies requirements for establishing an environmental policy, determining environmental aspects & impacts of products/activities/services, planning environmental objectives and measurable targets, implementation & operation of programs to meet objectives & targets, checking & corrective action, and management review.

ISO 14000 is similar to ISO 9000 <<link to post>> quality management in that both pertain to the process – the comprehensive outcome – of how a product is produced, rather than to the product itself. As with ISO 9000, certification is performed by third-party organisations rather than being awarded by ISO directly. The ISO 19011 audit standard applies when auditing for both 9000 and 14000 compliance at once.

The material included in this family of specifications is very broad. The major parts of ISO 14000 are:

ISO 14001 is the requirements standard against which organizations are assessed. ISO 14004 is a guidance document that explains the 14001 requirements in more detail. These present a structured approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, and to establishing and monitoring operational controls. ISO 14001 is generic and flexible enough to apply to any organization producing any product or service anywhere in the world.

These are further explicated by:

1. ISO 14040 discusses pre-production planning and environment goal setting.
2. ISO 14020 covers labels and declarations.
3. ISO 14030 discusses post-production environmental assesment.
4. ISO 14062 discusses making improvements to environmental impact goals.
5. ISO 14063 is an addendum to 14020, discussing further communications on environmental impact.
6. ISO 19011 which specifies one audit protocol for both 14000 and 9000 series standards together. This replaces ISO 14011 meta-evaluation — how to tell if your intended regulatory tools worked. 19011 is now the only recommended way to determine this.


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