ISO 14001:2015 adopts the High Level Structure which is now the required framework for all new and revised management system standards. (We will see the same structure in the new ISO 9001 and other ISO’s )
Strategic environmental management
There is a new requirement to comprehend the context of the organisation determining external and internal issues pertinent to the organisation and the environment, with actions to address them within the Environmental Management System (EMS).
14001 now embeds environmental and sustainability thinking into the high level strategy, vision and policy planning aspects of an organisation and project
A new clause has been added with particular responsibilities for top management to express their leadership and commitment to environmental management. Top management may assign this responsibility to others but retain accountability.
14001 calls for increased accountability for the leadership (CSE, MD) of an organisation or project to ensure ongoing commitment and engagement with environment and sustainability activities in the organisation.
Protecting the environment
Environmental policy shall incorporate a commitment to the ‘protection of the environment’. There is no definition about ‘protection’ that includes ‘prevention of pollution’ and ‘other’ commitments, such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.
The 14001 change from protection to prevention is significant, requiring a proactive approach and can be seen to move closer to a restorative thinking towards the environment
There is a shift in emphasis with regard to continual improvement, from improving the management system to improving environmental performance. The key focus is on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. The organisation shall decide on criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using correct indicators.
Again a significant and proactive change: from monitoring to improving performance
Organisations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts from raw material acquisition/generation to end-of-life treatment. This does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment (LCA), just thinking carefully about the stages of product/service that can be controlled or influenced.
There will be much debate on this 14001 change, but indicates a proactive approach to design and specification that takes into account material and building(?) environmental impact through to end of life, encouraging more design for re-use, deconstruction plans and circular economy thinking
Organisations need to control or influence outsourced processes.
Will, at last bring contracted-out elements of a project fully into ISO 14001 environmental management, and will undoubtedly see an increase, and reinforcing of 14001 as a contract and subcontract requirement.
Emphasis on internal and external communication, and equal treatment of both has been added. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organisation whilst taking into account its compliance obligations.
Welcomed 14001 improvement for the digital and social media age of communications and transparency
The term ‘documented information’, is used instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. The organisation has the flexibility to conclude when ‘procedures’ are required. Any format (paper, cloud, etc.) would be valid.
Again a welcomed improvement in the digital and social media age of documentation and data management
ISO 14001:2004 TRANSITION
Organisations that are already certified to ISO 14001:2004 will have three years from formal publication of ISO 14001:2015 in which to transfer to the new version of this standard. Based on the current publication schedule, this transition period would end in September 2018.
Working in collaboration with a number of organisation on EMS and 14001 improvement, we have commenced future proofing systems and environmental approaches to address ISO 14001:2015 and in doing so improve integration between sustainability approaches, organisation strategy and governance. Get in touch to find out how this could help your environment management take the next step forward.