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  • Lee Calver
  • 9 December 2014
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Are you ready for the revisions to ISO 14001?

The forthcoming revision of the ISO 14001 standard, used by over 300,000 organisations worldwide, has been welcomed widely by environment and sustainability professionals according to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s (IEMA) latest member survey on the Draft International Standard.

The international ISO 14001 standard outlines how to put an effective environmental management system in place and it is intended to help businesses remain commercially successful without disregarding crucial environmental responsibilities.

IEMA has been actively engaged throughout the revision of the standard and recently stated that it has received ‘overwhelming support’ for the changes thus far.

It’s latest member survey revealed that that more than 90% of sustainability professionals are in favour of proposals to align environmental management systems with an organisation's strategy, while 84% of members support an extra emphasis being placed on reducing environmental impacts across the whole life-cycle of products and services including supply chains and in the development and use of products and services.

According to the study, 92% of respondents feel ISO 14001 needs to toughen requirements on businesses to prove their legal compliance and environmental performance improvements. Furthermore, 89% believe that ISO 14001 should require organisations to consider impacts from a changing environment.

The changes to ISO 14001 are expected to be implemented in Q3 of 2015 and will see the standard integrated more closely into core business planning. In addition, there will be further focus on leadership, environmental performance and communication.

Commenting, Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Executive Director of Policy and Engagement, said:

"We are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive ballot on moving the revision forward. The changes being proposed are significant, and will provide an enhanced framework for organisations managing their interface with the environment.

"This standard will integrate the environment into core organisational business processes and it's about driving environmental improvements into more strategic decision-making. It will require organisations to take a lifecycle perspective; there's a lot more focus on leadership and top management; and a lot more on communicational performance.”

Baxter, the UK’s appointed expert on the current revision to ISO 14001 added:

"IEMA members have made a significant contribution throughout the revision process and their views are fully reflected in the current document.”

The world’s most popular standard

In recent weeks the latest data on the uptake of the international Environmental Management System standard ISO 14001 shows that the number of certificates issued worldwide has exceeded the 300,000 mark for the first time. IEMA reported that the data it has seen from ISO shows a year-on-year increase of almost 17,000 certificates, between 2012’s total of 284,654 certificates and 2013’s figure of 301,647.

It also revealed that the UK sits fourth in the league table of nations with the most number of certificates (a move up the list of one place in the last year), just behind China, Italy and japan. The UK is placed sixth in the top ten countries for growth with a net increase of 996 certificates between 2012 and 2013.

Martin Baxter commented:

“It’s fantastic to see that the total number of ISO 14001 certificates has not only continued to grow year-on-year, but that the total figure has reached a real milestone of over 300,000 certificates worldwide. “With less than one year to go before the new version of the standard is expected to be implemented, I expect to see a continued trajectory of growth."

The next meeting of the international working group that is drafting the standard will be held in the first week of February 2015 in Tokyo to consider the comments and produce the final draft.

Baxter said:

"The focus of the forthcoming meeting will be to address the comments and build a stronger consensus on the changes that are being proposed. We'll then enter the final stages of the revision process."

What are the benefits of ISO 14001?

  • Improved efficiency cuts the cost of running your business.
  • Demonstrating compliance expands your business opportunities.
  • Meeting legal obligations helps to win greater stakeholder and customer trust.
  • Better environmental management reduces waste and resource use.

I want my organisation to certify to ISO 14001 – what do I do?

ISO 14001:2004 is still valid and organisations will still benefit from implementing and certifying against it. Certification to ISO 14001:2004 will be allowed for a period of time (expected to be 18 months) following the publication of the new version of the standard.

I’m already certified to ISO 14001 – what do I do now?

Once the revised standard has been published there will be a transition period of three years in which to transfer the EMS to the new edition of the standard.

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