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ISO 14000 Environmental Management Systems
ISO 14000 Environmental Management Systems

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ISO 14000, which was initially released in 1996 and updated in 2004, is a global series of environmental management systems (EMS) standards. As a continuation of the standardization process that was initiated with the ISO 9000 series, the ISO 14000 series of international standards have been developed so that organizations may incorporate environmental aspects into operations and product standards. It is a set of voluntary environmental management standards, guides and technical reports, which specifically focuses on corporate environmental management systems, operating practices, products, and services. The ISO standards in general aim to facilitate international trade and commerce. Companies can implement any or all of the ISO 14000 series standards. They do not prescribe environmental performance targets, but provide organizations with the tools to assess and control the impact of their activities, products or services on the environment.

The ISO 14000 series addresses the following aspects of environmental management:

  • Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
  • Environmental Auditing & Related Investigations (EA&RI)
  • Environmental Labels and Declarations (EL)
  • Environmental Performance Evaluation (EPE)
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Terms and Definitions (T&D)

Compliance to an ISO 14000 EMS:

  • Assures customers of your commitment to demonstrable environmental management
  • Maintains excellent public relations
  • Satisfies investor criteria and improves access to capital
  • Obtains insurance at reasonable cost
  • Enhances your image and market share
  • Meets your clients' registration requirements
  • Improves cost control by identifying and eliminating waste and inefficiency
  • Lessens incidents that result in liability
  • Reduces your consumption of materials and energy
  • Facilitates the attainment of permits and authorizations
  • Decreases the cost of complying with environmental regulations
  • Improves industry-government relations

ISO 14000 registration

With respect to ISO 14000, registration is the formal recognition of an organization's ability to conform to the requirements of an EMS. Organizations may simply declare that their EMS meets the requirements of ISO 14001 ("self-declaration"). However, many organizations choose to have their EMS registered, usually to provide greater assurance to clients and the public, or because regulators and clients require it.

What are the principles behind the ISO 14000 series?

The ISO 14000 standards and documents are being developed with the following key principles in mind:

  • To result in better environmental management
  • To encompass environmental management systems and the environmental aspects of products
  • To be applicable in all countries
  • To promote the broader interests of the public as well as users of these standards
  • To be cost-effective, non-prescriptive and flexible so they are able to meet the differing needs of organizations of any type or size, worldwide
  • As part of their flexibility, to be suitable for internal and/or external verification
  • To be scientifically based
  • Above all, to be practical, useful and usable

ISO 14000 standards- "Organization" and "Product" oriented

The ISO 14000 series fall into two major groupings: organization-oriented and product-oriented documents. The organization-oriented standards provide complete guidance for establishing, maintaining and evaluating an EMS. They are also concerned with other organization-wide environmental systems and functions.

The following is a list of the published organization-oriented ISO 14000 standards, TRs and guides:

  • ISO 14001:2004, Environmental Management Systems-Specification With Guidance for Use
  • ISO 14004:2004, Environmental Management Systems-General Guidelines on Principles, Systems and Supporting Techniques
  • ISO 14010:1996, Guidelines for Environmental Auditing-General Principles
  • ISO 14011:1996, Guidelines for Environmental Auditing-Audit Procedures-Auditing of Environmental Management Systems
  • ISO 14012:1996, Guidelines for Environmental Auditing-Qualification Criteria for Environmental Auditors
  • ISO 14031:1999, Environmental Management-Environmental Performance Evaluation-Guidelines
  • ISO/TR 14032:1999, Environmental Management-Examples of Environmental Performance Evaluation (EPE)
  • ISO/TR 14061:1998, Information to Assist Forestry Organizations in the Use of Environmental Management System Standards ISO 14001 and ISO 14004

The product-oriented standards are concerned with determining the environmental aspects and impacts of products or services over their life cycles, and with the application of environmental labels and declarations on or to products. These standards assist an organization in assembling the data needed to support planning and decision-making, and to communicate specific environmental information about a product/service to customers, end-users, and other interested parties.

ISO 14000 and International Trade

ISO endeavors to avoid the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade. The objective of environmental management standards has been to develop a common language platform for environmental issues, so that businesses, prospective customers, and governments are certain that all organizational level environmental concerns have been addressed. By focusing on management and product standards, and emphasizing guidance over strict specifications in its documents, ISO 14000 has created a positive ambiance for world trade, at the same time encouraging progress in environmental performance. Also know more on ISO 14001 Certification


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