ISO 14001The revised edition of ISO 14001 – the international standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) – used by over 250,000 organisations worldwide is close to completion, with a draft text being finalized before its release in the first half of next year. This will bring a renewed focus on the value environmental management delivers to business.

What kind of changes will there be? What will need to be taken into consideration?

When published, ISO 14001:2015 will have a new structure and adopt the “common text” that follows the so-called “high level structure” of ISO’s Annex SL publication which aims to ensure an identical structure for all management system standards (MSS) as well as the consistent use of core texts and terms with the objective of making the standards more comprehensible and combined certifications more efficient.

This will be a fundamental revision of the standard, with far greater implications for organisations than the previous revision in 2004. Some of the new requirements will be through changes to the structure of the standard including new clauses and the strengthening of others.

What changes are expected?

The new ISO 14001 is expected to be more focused on the environmental aspects of value chains so focusing more intensely on the environmental effects of not only the activities in the company, but also the upstream processes (e.g. raw materials, logistics chains) as well as in the life cycle of products and services. It will also place additional emphasis on environmental leadership in the organisation, getting value from your management system and better integration of your EMS with your core business processes, rather than possibly just tacking it on as an afterthought.

Core objectives of the new ISO 14001:2015 are to:

  • Improve the connection between environmental and business priorities;
  • Increase transparency and accountability in environmental management;
  • Highlight the positive contribution of environmental management system standards;
  • Clarify the requirements for and enhance focus on improvement in environmental performance;
  • Strengthen the relationship between environmental management and the core business at a strategic level;
  • Make commitments to sustainable development and social responsibility (ISO 26000);
  • Transparency and accountability in environmental management issues and performance;
  • Highlight the concept of Life Cycle Assessment (LCL) and consider the value chain with a view towards the identification and assessment of environmental impacts of products;
  • Accommodate requests to create an external communication strategy.

Expected drafts and transitional periods

The final draft (Final Draft International Standard – FDIS) is expected in January 2015. Once the draft has reached this status, further technical changes and changes to content are unlikely. The publication of ISO 14001:2015 is expected in May 2015.

At the same time, the International Standard Organization (ISO) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) will jointly determine the transition period. Companies that are certified in accordance with ISO 14001:2004 or the corrected version from 2009 will probably have between one to three years to switch their EMS over to ISO 14001:2015. At a certain point in time, all ISO 14001:2004 certifications will become invalid and will be withdrawn.

Recommendations for companies

For companies seeking initial certification according to ISO 14001 it is still possible to obtain certification according to the current version of the standard, which is good news for those already in the midst of the certification process! On the other hand, there is of course the option of waiting until the requirements of the new standard have largely been determined. For companies that are already certified according to ISO 14001 the primary recommendations are to:

  • Check your knowledge of the life cycle assessment of products and expand these as needed;
  • Develop and deepen your consideration of the environmental impacts on the value chain (suppliers, customers);
  • Keep up to date on the public debate regarding the standard and the interpretation of its requirements.

The ten sections of ISO 14001- 2015

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Want to find out more? Just call us on 087 9678 372 or email We provide training in ISO 14001 and Environmental Management Systems implementation and auditing, and consultancy from the scoping and development stage to implementation and improvement of existing EMS to achieve improvements in environmental performance. Also look out for our training in the new ISO 14001:2015 standard in our 2015 New year calendar.