Overview of ISO 14001 EMS
Earlier, environment protection in the corporate sector was a primary matter, and it used to focus on systematic monitoring of on-site impact only in regard to statutory compliance. However, Environmental Management Systems (EMS) is now introduced to make all employees aware of environmental protection and prevention of negative environmental effects. It assists corporations/companies/organisations in shifting towards environmental sustainability.
The ISO 14001 EMS is an internationally recognised standard that applies a tried and tested system with specific requirements for an effective EMS and supports the corporate sector in their activities towards environment protection. ISO 14001 EMS is applicable to any type of organization despite its activity or sector.
ISO 14001:2015 is the latest version, and it is different from the older ISO 14001:2004 version. The difference between the elements of the two of them is as follows:
Context of Organisation
Implementation and Operation
ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardisation, which is a global federation of national standards bodies. There are ISO technical committees to prepare International Standards. All the governmental and non-governmental Organizations also take part in work in liaison with the ISO.
Objective of Environmental Management System
The objective of ISO 14001 EMS is to provide an organization with a framework to protect the environment and act on changing the environmental conditions of the workplace with socio-economic needs. It specifies all the requirements that assist an organization in achieving the goal set for its environmental management system.
A systematic approach to protecting the environment is provided with information and also a contribution to sustainable development by:
- protecting the environment as it prevents or mitigates adverse environmental impacts
- assisting the organization in the fulfilment of all the obligations
- enhancing environmental performance
- controlling the procedure of designing, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal of the organization's products and services by using a life cycle perspective that prevents unintentional shift of environmental impact
- achieving operational and financial advantages that result from implementing environment-friendly alternatives to strengthen the organization's position in the market
- Communicating all the information related to the environment to the relevant and interested parties.
This Environmental Management Systems (EMS) International Standard, like other International Standards, does not aim at increasing or changing an organization's legal requirements.
Criteria for ISO 14001 EMS
Criteria for ISO 14001 Environmental Management System are as follows:
- Commitment and Policy related to Environment Sustainability
- Planning which includes goal setting and targets
- An implementation that includes staff training, documentation, and communication
- Evaluation means monitoring programs and adjusting such plans accordingly
- Review the plans, goals, and the EMS itself.
While applying this ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, the corporates need to implement a solution that meets such criteria. Some corporates go for an in-house solution, while others go for using environmental software that works per the design and guidelines provided by ISO 14001. Combining all the criteria mentioned above creates a cumulative effect of a Continuous Improvement Cycle.
Prerequisites for ISO 14001 EMS
Prerequisites for obtaining certification under ISO 14001 EMS is as follows:
- Legislative and Regulatory requirements
- Identification of significant Environmental Aspects
- Examination of existing environmental practices and procedures
- Assessments of previous incidents
Benefits of ISO 14001 EMS
Benefits of obtaining ISO 14001 EMS Certificates are as follows:
- Use of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle approach
- Reduction in the impact of business activities of any entity on the environment
- Proof of fulfilment of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Making consumers aware of the organization's environment-friendly business
- Enhances the goodwill and image of Organizations/corporations in the eyes of customers
- Increase environmental awareness at the workplace and among the people working there
- Make employees environmentally conscious
- Prevents environmental risks, waste generation and pollution
- Helps in meeting environmental legal compliances
- Enhances the brand reputation
- Increased Marketability, Profitability and Sustainability
Documents required for ISO 14001 EMS
Mandatory documents needed to be produced in case of ISO 14001 EMS:
- Scope of EMS
- Environmental Policy
- Risk and Opportunities to be Addressed and Processes
- Criteria for Evaluation of Significant Environmental Aspects
- Environmental Aspects with Associated Environmental Impacts
- Significant Environmental Aspects
- Compliance Obligations Document
- Environmental Objectives and Plans for Achieving Them
- Operational Control
- Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Records of Training, Skills, Experience and Qualifications
- Evidence of Communication
- Monitoring and Measurement Results
- Evidence of the Compliance Evaluation Result
- Internal Audit Program
- Results of Internal Audits
- Results of the Management Review
- Results of Corrective Actions
Non-mandatory documents for ISO 14001 EMS
There are also some non-mandatory documents for ISO 14001 implementation. However, they are not mandatorily required; still, they are important and such documents are as follows:
- Procedure for Determining Context of the Organization/corporation and Interested Parties
- Procedure for Identification
- Evaluation of Environmental Aspects and Risks
- Competence, Training and Awareness procedure
- Procedure for Communication
- Procedure for Document and Record control
- Procedure for Internal Audit
- Procedure for Management Review
- Procedure for Management of Non-conformities and Corrective actions
Procedure for obtaining ISO 14001 EMS Certification
Process to get any organization/corporation certified to ISO 14001 EMS is as follows:
- Internal Audit
In an internal audit, the applicant organization checks its EMS processes. It is done to ensure that the organization is keeping records to confirm that compliance of processes and to understand the problems and weaknesses.
- Management Review
A formal review by the management of the organization to evaluate all the relevant facts about management system processes to make appropriate decisions. The applicant goes for analysis to know about the loophole that is where the change is needed in the existing EMS.
- Corrective Actions
Applicant creates a Project Plan to determine their tasks, resources and timeline for implementing the new effective EMS. Compare services that are helpful in integrating an EMS into the organization/cooperation.
- Educate Your Organization
All employees of such organizations or corporations are trained to work with the ISO 14001 EMS System.
- Design & Document
ISO 14001 Environmental Manual and Procedures are designed and documented. The organization or corporation applying for such certification determines its current processes regarding EMS and redesigns them to comply with the standard's requirements. After modifying or developing processes to meet the required standard, the documentation of the processes as per the EMS System is prepared.
- Improvement of EMS
After the development and documentation of the system, employees follow the procedures, collect records and make improvements to the existing system.
- Audit the EMS Performance
Organisations or corporations conduct internal audits to see how their system is working and find solutions to improve them. Then an Audit is done by a Registrar.
A Registrar is selected to perform registration and then regular surveillance audits. During these audits, the Auditor looks at the prepared EMS plans. EMS ensures that the organization or corporation meets the requirements of the standard. If Registrar finds that there are parts of EMS that do not meet the requirements, it considers the document as "Nonconformance." Certification/Registration is dependent on the correctness of the nonconformances.
There are three types of conformances for ISO 14001:
- Internal efforts to prepare an EMS to meet ISO 14001 requirements
- Self-declaration of conformances
- The third-party verified certification/registration.
The validity of such ISO 14001 Certification is for three years.
Contents of ISO 14001 EMS
This EMS International Standard conforms to ISO's requirements, including a high-level structure, identical core text, and common definitions of common terms designed to benefit users implementing ISO management system standards. It does not include the requirements specific to other management systems, such as requirements for quality, occupational health, safety, financial management or energy. However, this International Standard enables any organization to integrate its Environmental Management System (EMS) with the relevant requirements.
This EMS International Standard contains the requirements used to assess conformity. An organization that desires to demonstrate conformity with this International Standard can do so by the followings:
- making a self-declaration and self-determination
- Seeking confirmation of its conformance by parties who are interested in the organization, such as customers, etc.
- seeking confirmation of its self-declaration by a third party who is not related to the organization or from outside of the organization
- Seeking registration or certification of its Environmental Management System (EMS) by an external organization.
It provides a broad technical correspondence between the previous edition of this International Standard and the latest edition. Implementation guidance on environmental management systems (EMS) is included in ISO 14004 EMS.
An interested party for ISO 14001 EMS is an organisation or person that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by an activity, i.e., who "perceives itself to be affected" by the perception that has been made known to the organization.
Such person or organization can be identified as Customers, communities, suppliers, regulators, non-governmental organizations, investors and employees.
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Frequently Asked Questions
An environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of procedures prepared by organizations to achieve environmental sustainability goals and meet regulatory standards.
The ISO 14001 EMS is an instrument that sets out the criteria for establishing and implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) worldwide. It sets out an organisation's framework to comply with an effective EMS. It regulates environmental protection and prevents environmental pollution in compliance with socio-economic requirements.
Benefits of ISO 14001 Certification are as follows:
- Improved Environmental Management
- Legal Compliance
- Reduction in operating costs
- Improvement in stakeholder relationship
- Enhance business
Organizations of all sizes that wish to commit to sustainability or reduce their costs by using more efficient resources should get the ISO 14001 Certification.
Interested Parties are customers, suppliers, investors, employees, municipalities, supervisory authorities and non-governmental organizations. The stakeholders who have expressed their interest and from whom relevant requirements and binding obligations arise are considered to be interested parties.
The ISO 14001:2015 have set the latest trends for environmental management and has included additional requirements, such as scope, normative references, terms and definitions, the context of an organisation, leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation and improvement.
The ISO 14001 EMS certification is valid for a period of 3 years from the day of its issuance.