ISO 14001:2015 Changes Presented at 2015 SQA Client Conference

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August 18, 2015

The ISO 14001 standard serves as an organization’s framework to improve management of their environmental impact. Regardless of size or industry, the standard helps improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, emissions and effluents and drive down costs. The ISO 14001 standard provides assurance to an organization’s stakeholders that risk from environmental impact is mitigated through assurance of competence within the scope of accreditation. 

The standard was revised in 2015, with the new version set to be available in September. Susan LK Briggs, who led the international working group in the revision of ISO 14001, presented on the changes during the 2015 SQA client conference. “The focus of this revision is on sustainability,” said Briggs. “There is a movement to have more balance in the world, and grow businesses in a way that protects the environment.” The presentation focused on several key revisions and how they address environmental challenges now and in the future.

Strategic Environmental Management

ISO 14001:2015 places more emphasis on environmental management within an organization’s strategic planning process. A new requirement to understand the organization and its context has been incorporated to identify relevant issues and leverage that knowledge during the planning process for the benefit of both the organization and the environment.


To ensure the success of the system, a new clause has been added that assigns specific responsibilities to leadership to align environmental management with the business strategy and integrate it in the business processes.

Protecting the Environment and Environmental Performance

The new standard holds organizations accountable for proactive initiatives and continual improvement. The expectation is that organizations will expand their policy commitments on preventing pollution to protecting the environment from harm and degradation, and shifts emphasis on continual improvement, from improving the management system to improving environmental performance.

Lifecycle Thinking

In addition to the current requirement to manage environmental aspects associated with procured goods and service, organizations will need to consider the entire lifecycle of the product, including product use, end-of-life treatment and disposal.

Achievement of an effective environmental management system (EMS) leads to enhancement of environmental performance, fulfillment of compliance obligations and achievement of environmental objectives.

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