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Friday, March 12, 2010

ISO 14000 essentials

This section concisely describes the essential features of the ISO 14000 family.
The ISO 14000 family addresses various aspects of environmental management. The very first two standards, ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14004:2004 deal with environmental management systems (EMS). ISO 14001:2004 provides the requirements for an EMS and ISO 14004:2004 gives general EMS guidelines.

The other standards and guidelines in the family address specific environmental aspects, including: labeling, performance evaluation, life cycle analysis, communication and auditing.

An ISO 14001:2004-based EMS

An EMS meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 is a management tool enabling an organization of any size or type to:

identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services, and to
improve its environmental performance continually, and to
implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved.
How it works

ISO 14001:2004 does not specify levels of environmental performance. If it specified levels of environmental performance, they would have to be specific to each business activity and this would require a specific EMS standard for each business. That is not the intention.

ISO has many other standards dealing with specific environmental issues. The intention of ISO 14001:2004 is to provide a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organization's environmental policy, plans and actions.

ISO 14001:2004 gives the generic requirements for an environmental management system. The underlying philosophy is that whatever the organization's activity, the requirements of an effective EMS are the same.

This has the effect of establishing a common reference for communicating about environmental management issues between organizations and their customers, regulators, the public and other stakeholders.

Because ISO 14001:2004 does not lay down levels of environmental performance, the standard can to be implemented by a wide variety of organizations, whatever their current level of environmental maturity. However, a commitment to compliance with applicable environmental legislation and regulations is required, along with a commitment to continual improvement – for which the EMS provides the framework.

The EMS standards

ISO 14004:2004 provides guidelines on the elements of an environmental management system and its implementation, and discusses principal issues involved.

ISO 14001:2004 specifies the requirements for such an environmental management system. Fulfilling these requirements demands objective evidence which can be audited to demonstrate that the environmental management system is operating effectively in conformity to the standard.

What can be achieved

ISO 14001:2004 is a tool that can be used to meet internal objectives:

provide assurance to management that it is in control of the organizational processes and activities having an impact on the environment
assure employees that they are working for an environmentally responsible organization.
ISO 14001:2004 can also be used to meet external objectives:

provide assurance on environmental issues to external stakeholders – such as customers, the community and regulatory agencies
comply with environmental regulations
support the organization's claims and communication about its own environmental policies, plans and actions
provides a framework for demonstrating conformity via suppliers' declarations of conformity, assessment of conformity by an external stakeholder - such as a business client - and for certification of conformity by an independent certification body.
ISO 14000
Environment management

CD of the complete collection of ISO 14000 family of standards.
Read more

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Related standards

ISO 14001:2004
Environmental management systems -- Requirements with guidance for use
ISO 14004:2004
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