The pressure on organisations to demonstrate sound environmental performance by controlling the impacts of their activities, products and services on the environment are increasing every year. This is being driven by a combination of legislation and increased concern from stakeholders.
Although many organisations undertake environmental reviews and audits, these alone may be insufficient in providing assurance of meeting your legal and policy obligations. We recommend to any businesses that have a legal requirement in relation to the environment, that you contact Sci Qual International to arrange for certification to ISO 14001. You can be audited and certified once you meet the ISO 14001 requirements.
In September 2015, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification was updated to address the needs of businesses and organisations in the 21st century.
The new standard is ISO 14001:2015. There is also an Australian/New Zealand version of this standard. Unfortunately, because Standards Australia/NZ didn’t approve this standard until March 2016 it has been called AS/NZS ISO 14001:2016 which has caused some confusion. JAS-ANZ have adopted the ISO 14001:2015 version as the standard on the JAS-ANZ register and there is no option to be certified to the AS/NZS version at this stage. However, there is no difference in content between the two standards.
What are the main differences in content between the old and new version?
Strategic Environmental Management
There is an increased prominence of environmental management within the organization’s strategic planning processes.A new requirement to understand the organization’s context has been incorporated to identify and leverage opportunities for the benefit of both the organization and the environment. Particular focus is on issues or changing circumstances related to the needs and expectations of interested parties (including regulatory requirements) and local, regional or global environmental conditions that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. Once identified as a priority, actions to mitigate adverse risk or exploit beneficial opportunities are integrated in the operational planning of the environmental management system.
To ensure the success of the system, a new clause has been added that assigns specific responsibilities for those in leadership roles to promote environmental management within the organization.
Protecting the environment
The expectation on organizations has been expanded to commit to proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, consistent with the context of the organization. The revised text does not define ‘protect the environment’ but it notes that it can include prevention of pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.
There is a shift in emphasis with regard to continual improvement, from improving the management system to improving environmental performance. Consistent with the organization’s policy commitments the organization would, as applicable, reduce emissions, effluents and waste to levels set by the organization.
In addition to the current requirement to manage environmental aspects associated with procured goods and service, organizations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts associated with product design and development to address each stage of the life cycle, i.e. acquisition of raw materials, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, end-of-life treatment and final disposal. This does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment.
Organizations need to control or influence outsourced processes.
The development of a communications strategy with equal emphasis on external and internal communications has been added. This includes a requirement on communicating consistent and reliable information and establishing mechanisms for persons working under the organization's control to make suggestions on improving the environmental management system. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organization but the decision needs to take into account the information reporting required by regulatory agencies and the expectations of other interested parties.
Reflecting the evolution of computer and cloud-based systems for running management systems, the revision incorporates the term ‘documented information’, instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. To align with ISO 9001, the organization will retain the flexibility to determine when ‘procedures’ are needed to ensure effective process control.
ISO common framework for management systems
It uses ISO new High-Level Structure (HLS) for Management System Standards (MSS) which is a new common framework for ISO management system standards, which incorporate identical core text, and common terms with core definitions. The new framework is designed to benefit users implementing multiple ISO management system standards and be applicable to any management system standard. This allows compatibility across ISO management system standards while offering subject-specific flexibility.