Key Changes in ISO 14001:2015

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September 01, 2016

Susan Briggs, Convener – TC207/SC1/WG5 for ISO, shared important changes, common implementation challenges and best practices for achieving ISO 14001:2015 at the Smithers Quality Assessment (SQA) 4th Annual Client Event.

ISO 14001 was previously updated in 2004. There have been many changes in environmental management, business operations and stakeholder expectations over the last 12 years. A few examples relevant to ISO 14001 are lean manufacturing and Six Sigma becoming mainstream and adopted by many businesses.

“The new version emphasizes unregulated environmental conditions and sustainable development,” said Briggs. “Consumers have become much more aware and have higher expectations for companies and their sustainability efforts. The goal of the new ISO 14001:2015 version is to make the standard relevant for the next 20 years.”

Briggs identified significant themes in the 2015 version:

  • A focus on how the environmental management system (EMS) supports the vision and mission of the organization.
  • More prominent roles and responsibilities for the top management of the organization.
  • Taking into consideration environmental conditions – how the organization affects the environment and how the local or regional environment conditions affect the organization.
  • A life cycle perspective for products – evaluate all the phases the product will go through, including design, raw material acquisition, manufacturing, transportation, use of product, end-of-life treatment and final disposal of products.
  • Incorporating a risk-based approach, which was included previously when determining significant environmental aspects, but has been expanded with the need to prioritize organizational context issues and interested party requirements in Clause 6.1.1 that will need to be addressed in the EMS.
  • Greater emphasis on environmental performance improvement in many sections of the standard.
  • Aligning management systems into business processes by using those processes to address ISO 14001 requirements.

The new version has a new structure and terminology. Briggs encouraged attendees to read the standard, including glossary of terms and the annexes. These annexes provide guidance that is very helpful and may be an informative place to start when beginning the process for certification.

To maintain a valid certificate, organizations must transition their environmental management systems to the new standard by September 15, 2018. SQA is offering two options to clients: upgrade in 2016 or 2017 with the goal to have current clients ISO 14001:2015 certified by December 31, 2017(about a year before the deadline).


About The Author | Smithers Quality Assessments

Smithers Quality Assessments (SQA) is a “Best in Class” quality and environmental management systems certification body. We serve large, medium and small clients in North America and Europe in several industrial, commercial, service and government business sectors. Since we were founded in 1993, SQA has sustained a growth rate that ranks among the best in the industry.

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