ISO 14001 Explained

The ISO 1400 Environmental Management Standard series is a set of intentional standards that focus on environmental management. This series focuses, not on the actual product, but how the product is produced. Its origins can be traced all the way back to the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in 1972. It took another 20 years, however, before the standards and guidelines were actually put into place at the Rio Summit on Environment in 1992.

what is iso?

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What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is the most well-known standard in the ISO 1400 family. Unlike many other quality control standards, the ISO 14001 standard does not have any exact measures. Instead it serves as the framework of control for businesses and establishments to create their own Environmental Management Standards; it focuses on how the standards can be applied in a business or organization to meet the guidelines and standards. Each business must establish its own targets and performance measures.

The ISO 14001 Standard is also the only standard against which businesses and establishments can achieve certification from a third party. Achieving certification is based upon meeting all three of the components of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards; minimizing how business operations negatively impact the environment, complying with the regulations and laws outlined in the EMS and continual improvement.

ISO 14001 Principles

The ISO 14001 Standard is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, which is a system based on a concept of continual improvement. It encompasses a total of 17 elements that are grouped into five phases. 

  1. Environmental Policy (Plan): Review processes and products to identify the current elements of operation and how those elements impact the environment. Future operations are also assessed during the plan phase to determine how they may impact various environmental aspects. Impact may be direct (manufacturing process) or indirect (raw materials).
  2. Planning (Do): Identify the resources that are required and document all procedures. Communication and participation are essential to ensure success, especially in top management positions.
  3. Implementation and Operation (Check): Measure and monitor processes. Report data and results.
  4. Checking and Corrective Action (Act): Ensure that objectives are being met through a planned management review. Data gathered in step 3 is used to determine if any corrective action is needed. Make necessary changes. 
  5. Management Review (Continual Improvement Process): Based on three dimensions that gradually move the business from operational environmental measurement towards a more strategic approach when dealing with environmental concerns and challenges. Dimensions include: 
    • Expanding the Environmental Management Standards to more and more businesses areas
    • Enrichment by managing more and more processes, products, resources and activities
    • Upgrading to improve the organizational and structural framework of the EMS.

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