New issue of ISO 14001 standard


The third version of one of the world's most popular standard for management systems, ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental management system - Requirements with guidance for use) has been published on 15 September 2015. Since its first issue in 1996, more than 300 000 organizations in 160 countries around the world certified in compliance with the requirements of the standard.

Structure and content changes

Key content changes of the new version of the standard are greater commitment from leadership, an increased alignment with strategic direction, greater protection for the environment, with a focus on proactive initiatives, more effective communication and "life-cycle thinking" - considering the environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of the product, from development to the end-of-life.

The structure of the new version of the standard is in compliance with the structure, prescribed by ISO Technical Committee and is the same for all management systems, facilitating the integration of various management systems (e.g. quality management system, environmental management system, occupational health and safety management system).

The standard contains 10 chapters:

1. Scope

2. Normative references

3. Terms and definitions

These three chapters are similar as in ISO 14001:2004, however some new definitions were added.

4. Context of the organization. The chapter describes the understanding of organization, the needs and expectations of interested parties, determining the scope of the management system or environmental management system (EMS) and general requirement for the system as such.

5. Leadership. Requirements of this chapter relate to the commitment of the leadership, policy and organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities, in the environmental management system. The requirements of EMS should be as much as possible included in business processes. In the environmental policy, the commitment to the protection of the environment is extended to protection and other specific commitment(s) relevant to the context of the organization, e.g. sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of environment biodiversity and ecosystems.

6. Planning. Requirements of this chapter are similar to those in current version of the standard and are related to identification of environmental aspects, legal requirements and environmental objectives. New requirement, related to those elements, is the consideration of life cycle of product or service and environmental condition outside the organization.   

7. Support. In this chapter there are requirements in relation to resources, competence, awareness, communication and documented information. Requirements are mostly the same as in ISO 14001:2004; for communication the organization has to define, with whom, how and what is communicated (strategy of environmental communication).

8. Operation. In this chapter, the requirements that integrate EMS also into process of planning and purchasing are added to requirements for planning and control of EMS and emergency preparedness.

9. Performance evaluation. Requirements for monitoring and measuring are more detailed, namely, the organization shall recognize its needs for measurement, determine methods, criteria and analyse results; and has to evaluate the environmental performance as well as environmental management system. In this chapter there are also requirements for evaluation of compliance with legal requirements, internal audit and management review, the result of which is also the evaluation of the impact on strategic plans.

10. Improvement. This chapter brings new requirements, namely proving the continual improvement of environmental performance of organization.

Annex A is informative, it contains more detailed description of individual elements of the standard and is intended especially to prevent misinterpretation of standard's requirements. Annex B shows the relation between current and new ISO 14001 and relation between new ISO 14001 and PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) model.


New standard ISO 14001 contains some new requirements, which would help the organization to improve their environmental management in a way that it would as much as possible comply with the requirements of legislation and it would honestly, transparently, completely and non-misleadingly communicate with interested parties regarding their environmental performance. The environmental management system should be closely involved in all business processes and embedded in strategic planning.

Preparation of organization to the new version of standard

Organization, that already have a certified environmental management system in compliance with the requirements of ISO 14001:2004, will have time for transition to the new version of the standard until 15 September 2018, i.e. three years upon the issue of the standard. Therefore, the organizations have plenty of time, which shall not put them asleep. At the adaptation, the organization should focus on key changes (e.g. environmental protection, "life-cycle thinking", communication) and should pay attention to training and awareness of all interested parties for responsible environmental management and improvement. All our customers will be timely informed about the ways of transition to the new issue of the standard.


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