ISO 14001 is the first environmental management standard, and is especially appreciated for its operational aspect. Adopted by more than 250,000 users certified in 155 countries, ISO 14001 underwent changes in 2015 to take account of developments in markets and in society’s expectations.
Improved environmental performance, integration of external interested parties, prioritizing risks, definition of issues… the new version of the standard confirms its basic principles but also explores new ways forward.
Why has ISO 14001 been revised?
Environmental regulations have significantly changed since the creation of ISO 14001 in 1996, and so have the expectations of consumers and society. In the light of these developments, the environmental management system standard needed to change too.
The current 2015 version explores new paths. For example, it invites top management to get more involved in order to link the organization’s issues with its sphere of influence and thereby enable it to prioritize risks and opportunities. It is also concerned with the entire life cycle of products and services. The notion of continual improvement evolves in the sense of improved environmental performance so as to counter the “lack of ambition” for which the previous version was criticized. Measurement of environmental performance combined with relevant communication ultimately enables more transparency and credibility vis-à-vis interested parties.
Another major change is strengthening of the notion of environmental performance in the organization’s strategy and linkage with CSR principles. The new structure of the standard, termed “universal”, has also been designed to simplify and streamline integration with other management systems such as ISO 9001 on Quality
Key phases of the revision
Begun in 2012, the revision work on ISO 14001 involved more than 60 countries. The work phases were as follows:
- March 2013: preliminary draft of ISO 14001:2015 (CD1: Committee Draft 1). This document gave rise to 160 pages of comments.
- October 2013: publication of CD2, with a validation period to December 2013.
- January 2014 to May 2014: analysis of the comments.
- August 2014: publication of the DIS version (Draft International Standard) of ISO 14001 for validation until December 2014.
- March 2015: issue of the FDIS (Final Draft) of ISO 14001.
- September 2015: publication of standard ISO 14001:2015.
When to switch over to ISO 14001 version 2015?
Organizations will have a 3-year transition period to migrate to ISO 14001:2015 certification. ISO 14001:2004 certificates will be valid up until the end of the transition period (September 2018). To help you prepare properly, AFNOR Group works alongside you to support you throughout your management system upgrade process: training, expert appraisals, evaluation visit, documentation, etc.
ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, a common core for greater agility
With virtually the same revision schedule, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 offer a greater number of users – SMEs and very small entities as well as large groups – the opportunity to dovetail their quality and environmental approaches. In strengthening strategic direction, giving meaning to continual improvement approaches, optimizing resources, and identifying major issues, the “combined” approach leads to improved performance.
Another argument in its favour is its significant impact on the economic performance of enterprises which on average report a 16% increase in turnover (study by the Organizational Performance Chair, Paris-Dauphine University). In their new versions, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 adopt the same so-called high-level structure (HLS) with 60% of requirements being common elements, so enabling increased agility.