Environmental Management Systems Requirements

  1. What is ISO 14001:2015?
  2. Which organisations should have ISO 14001:2015 certification?
  3. How many organisations worldwide are ISO 14001 certified?
  4. What are the ISO 14001:2015 requirements?
  5. What are the benefits of ISO 14001:2015 certification?
  6. How does my organisation achieve ISO 14001:2015 certification?

1. What is ISO 14001:2015?

ISO14001:2015 is the globally renowned International Standard which details requirements for Environmental Management Systems. The 2015 version is the third edition of the standard which was a technical revision overseen by the Technical Committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management, Subcommittee SC 1, Environmental management systems, and which includes a revised clause sequence. The standard provides organisations with a framework to protect the environment and respond to changing environmental conditions in balance with socio-economic needs, noting it does not state specific environmental performance criteria.

2. Which organisations should have ISO 14001:2015 certification?

The standard is intended for use by an organization seeking to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner that contributes to the environmental pillar of sustainability.

ISO14001:2015 is a generic Environmental Management System standard which aligns with the Annex SL format upon which many other management system standards are based. The Standard is applicable to any organisation, regardless of size, type and nature, and applies to the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services that the organization determines it can either control or influence considering a life cycle perspective.

3. How many organisations worldwide are ISO 14001 certified?

Every year the ISO organisation conducts a survey of management system standard certification, which details the valid certificates each year by management system standard and across each country. The ISO Survey counts the number of certificates issued by certification bodies that have been accredited by members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).

The 2021 results indicated that circa 500,000 ISO14001 certificates are registered across the globe with China, Japan, Italy, United Kingdom, and Spain being the top 5 countries for volume, with China being responsible for over half the certificates issued. The top 5 sectors defined included Construction, Wholesale & Retail trade, Basic Metals & Fabrication, Electrical & Optical Equipment & Other Services.

4. What are the ISO 14001:2015 requirements?

The standard specifies requirements that enable an organisation to use a common approach and risk-based thinking to achieve the intended outcomes it sets for its environmental management system. The fundamental concept of the PDCA cycle is core to the systems approach as an iterative process to achieve continual improvement.

The level of detail and complexity of the environmental management system will vary depending on the context of the organization, the scope of its environmental management system, its compliance obligations, and the nature of its activities, products and services, including its environmental aspects and associated environmental impacts.

Detailed requirements are defined within clauses, and each are indispensable for its application, dependent on the organisation’s purpose and scope. The requirements are detailed within the following sections:

Section 4. Context of the organisation
Section 5. Leadership
Section 6. Planning
Section 7. Support
Section 8. Operation
Section 9. Performance evaluation
Section 10. Improvement

5. What are the benefits of ISO 14001:2015 certification?

A systematic approach to environmental management can provide top management with information to build success over the long term and create options for contributing to sustainable development by:

  • Protecting the environment by preventing or mitigating adverse environmental impacts
  • Mitigating the potential adverse effect of environmental conditions on the organization
  • Assisting the organization in the fulfilment of compliance obligations
  • Enhancing environmental performance
  • Controlling or influencing the way the organisation’s products and services are designed, manufactured, distributed, consumed and disposed by using a life cycle perspective that can prevent environmental impacts from being unintentionally shifted elsewhere within the life cycle
  • Achieving financial and operational benefits that can result from implementing environmentally
  • Sound alternatives that strengthen the organization’s market position
  • Communicating environmental information to relevant interested parties.

Demonstration of successful implementation of the International Standard can also be used to assure interested parties that an effective environmental management system is in place.

A report by ISO in 2015 published results of a study on several organisations across the globe who had adopted ISO14001 with some examples of benefits including, reduction of waste to landfill to zero and improved neighbour relations (Premier Foods, UK), and product/service development that has 90% less CO2 emissions associated with its like for like flooring options (UPCON, Japan).

6. How does my organisation achieve ISO 14001:2015 certification?

Once an organisation has formed an agreement for certification services, as well as having established and implemented its management system, the initial certification activity is conducted in two stages, which provides the opportunity for the auditor and organisation seeking certification to review the system and plan for the main audit activity at stage two. The main audit activity will gather objective evidence against the requirements of the standard using techniques such as observation, document review and personnel interview, to evaluate conformance with those requirements. If there are any issues identified that don’t meet requirements, these are subject to corrective action and once closed out, the audit file goes for technical review and a decision made to grant certification.

The size, complexity and needs of the organisation can influence both the duration and timeline to achieve certification, and this is also influenced by the maturity and resources within the organisation seeking certification.

The actual process of certification is guided by the accreditation standard for Management Systems, ISO 17021-1 and it is highlighted in the illustration below.

Get in touch today if you would like to find out more about the services that we provide, or if you are ready to begin your journey in getting ISO 14001:2015 certified, you can use the online request to receive a tailored proposal for your certification needs.

To find out more about the standard, you can get it here.

Join Our Newsletter

Want to get more about certification?

How have other organisations navigated the process of systems implementation? What developments are there in the world of certification? What new standards are evolving? How can you get the best outcomes from your certification activities?

Sign up for our regular newsletter direct to your inbox

* Required fields
By signing up you agree with SCS's privacy policy
Contact Us

Get a QUOTE today

Getting a no-obligation proposal for your certification needs is relatively straight forward. Complete the simple online questionnaire and we’ll get back to you directly with a bespoke proposal for your individual needs.
Get a Quote