History of ISO 14001


ISO 14001 is an internationally agreed standard that defines criteria for an environmental management system (EMS). It doesn’t state any requirements for environmental performance but offers a framework for companies and organizations to set up an effective environmental management system. It helps organizations to use their resources efficiently, resulting in improving their environmental performance and waste reduction.

The ISO 14001 standard requires organizations to consider all the operations that can harm the environment, including water and sewage issues, air pollution, soil contamination, waste management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resource use and efficiency.

There are more than 300,000 certifications to ISO 14001 in 171 countries around the world. ~ ISO 2018

Evolution of ISO 14001 

The ISO 14001 standard is published by the International Standard of Organization (ISO). This organization creates rules that are accepted worldwide. The current version of ISO 14001 is ISO 14001:2015, published in September 2015. 

The environmental movement started to become popular in the 1960s, followed by the first UN conference on the human environment in Stockholm in 1972. Then, in 1992, during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the United Nations reached an agreement to protect the environment by reducing the negative impacts of business’ activities. The BSI (British Standards Institution) developed BS 7750 to prevent the environment against negative impacts of business and human activities. This standard provided the basis for the International Organization for Standardization to finally develop ISO 14001 – “Environmental Management Systems – specification and guidance for use” in 1996.

History of ISO 14001

The history of ISO 14001 reflects the ever-changing and growing expectations of consumers and citizens concerning business environmental performance.

  • The ISO 14001, i.e., ISO 14001:1996 Standard set some minimum requirements based on environmental policies and objectives that the organization needed to define. Most of the focus was on pollution control and managing negative impacts on the environment.
  • The next iteration ISO 14001:2004 Standard improved the baseline requirements and included more criteria regarding compliance According to this standard, organizations had to differentiate the aspects “they could directly affect” and “they could influence.” Thus, organizations were required to act as ‘Change Agents,’ resulting in a noticeable improvement in supply chains.
  • The latest iteration ISO 14001:2015 Standard works on the risk-based approach and allows priority to be given to risks and opportunities relevant to the organization. It helps organizations to manage their resources for a positive outcome.

ISO 14001:2015 is suitable for organizations of all types and sizes, including:  

  • Single site to large multi-national companies
  • High-risk companies to low-risk service organizations
  • The manufacturing, process, and service industries, including local governments
  • All private and public industry sectors
  • Original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers

How are ISO Standards developed?  

The ISO standards are developed through a voluntary, consensus-based approach. Each ISO member country develops its standards, and then voting is done to finalize the ISO standard. The drafts of standards are shared for approval with other countries, and each country casts its official vote on the drafts at the appropriate stage of the process. Various organizations worldwide can participate in this process, including industry, government (federal and state), and other interested parties, including various non-government organizations (NGOs).

How are ISO Standards Purpose and Values of ISO 14001  

The two biggest challenges that industries and organizations face are:

  • To take care of the environment
  • To prevent companies from causing negative impacts on the environment

The purpose of establishing the ISO 14001 Standard is to protect the environment from the negative impacts of hazardous and non-hazardous waste produced by the industries and humans. An ISO 14001 standardized company is a business that is taking proper measures to reduce their environmental footprint. The standards help businesses to build better relationships with their customers and the public. Along with the good public image, implementation of an environmental management system helps many companies to save money by reducing incidents that can result in liability costs, obtaining insurance at a more reasonable cost, and conserving input materials and energy through reduction efforts.

Benefits of ISO 14001 for organizations

With organizations becoming more aware of the impact of industries and humans on the environment, many want to manage and control the environmental risks caused by hazardous waste. By implementing an ISO 14001 environmental management system, they are formalizing this process and gaining recognition for their actions. The various benefits of ISO 140001 that organizations can have are:

  • ISO 14001 certified organizations have increased demand for their services as they are following proper measures and regulations to maintain the environment.
  • Improve efficiency by decreasing overall cost due to a reduction in resource consumption, waste production, and operating costs.
  • Improve environmental performance by reducing the ecological impact and controlling environmental risk
  • Meeting various environmental commitments and environmental policy/legal requirements
  • By adopting the ISO standards, organizations can reap several economic benefits, including higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements. It also reduces the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines.
  • ISO 14001, as an internationally recognized standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe don’t need multiple registrations or certifications for their business.

How to get ISO certified?

ISO 14001:2015 does not state specific environmental performance criteria. It can be used in whole or in part to improve environmental management systematically. No company can claim the conformity of ISO 14001:2015 unless the organization fulfills all its requirements.

To get your company ISO 14001 certified, you need to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) based on the ISO 14001 requirements, followed by hiring an auditing team to audit and approve your EMS. The auditor will approve EMS only if the organization is meeting all the requirements of the ISO 14001 standards.

To implement your EMS, you need to define your company’s environmental policy, environmental objects and targets, and environmental aspects. All of these factors will determine the overall scope and implementation of your company’s EMS. You also need to create mandatory and additional processes and procedures based on the records or documentations required for ISO 14001 certification.

Once you collect all the records and documents, you can start with auditing and reviewing your system.

Steps for ISO Certification Auditing

Once you gather all the required documents, perform these steps to ensure an ISO 14001 certification successfully:

  • Internal audit – It allows you to check your EMS processes and to ensure that all records comply with the requirements. It can also help to find problems and weaknesses that would otherwise stay hidden.
  • Management review – It’s a formal review meeting by management to evaluate the management system processes to make appropriate decisions and assign resources.
  • Corrective actions – Use the internal audit and management review to correct the root cause of any identified problems. You also need to document how they were resolved.

Once you have all the documents and reviews, the auditor team will perform documentation review to be sure that your organization meets all the requirements.

The whole process of ISO certification is divided into two stages:

  • Stage One (documentation review) – The auditors from your chosen certification body will review your documentation to be sure they meet the requirements of ISO 14001.
  • Stage Two (main audit) – In this stage, the certification body auditors will verify that your actual activities are compliant with your ISO 14001 as well as documentation by reviewing your documents, records, and company practices.

Once your documents get verified, the certification body auditors will give you approval for ISO certification.

If you want to know more about ISO 14001 standard, reach out to Clean Water Environment at 833JOINCWE.


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