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ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that an organization can follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.

Part of the ISO 14000 family of standards on environmental management, ISO 14001 is a voluntary standard that organizations can certify to. Integrating it with other management systems standards, most commonly ISO 9001, can further assist in accomplishing organizational goals.

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) defines an environmental management system as “part of the management system used to manage environmental aspects, fulfil compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities.” The framework in the ISO 14001 standard can be used within a plan-do-check-act (PDCA) approach to continuous improvement. 

Who should use the ISO 14001:2015 revision?
ISO 14001:2015 should be used by any organization that wishes to set up, improve, or maintain an environmental management system to conform with its established environmental policy and requirements. The requirements of the standard can be incorporated into any environmental management system, the extent to which is determined by several factors including the organization’s industry, environmental policy, products and service offerings, and location.

ISO 14001:2015 is relevant to all organizations, regardless of size, location, sector, or industry.

What topics does ISO 14001:2015 cover?
At the highest level, ISO 14001:2015 covers the following topics with regard to environmental management systems:

Context of the organization
Performance evaluation
ISO 14001:2015 Revisions - 14001:2004 vs. 14001:2015
The 2015 revision of ISO 14001 introduces a number of changes from previous versions. A detailed explanation of the changes can be found in this ISO 14001 presentation.
as part of the effort to structure all ISO standards in the same way, the revisions introduced in the 2015 version of ISO 14001 include incorporating a required high-level structure, using mandatory definitions, and incorporating common standards requirements and clauses.
10 major areas of impact of the 2015 revision:

Expansion in EMS coverage and scope
Required interactions with external parties
New requirements for leadership engagement
Expanded legal compliance requirements
Need for risk-based planning and controls
New documentation requirements
Expanded operational control requirements
Changes in competence and awareness requirements
Impacts on the internal audit program
Increased certification costs

What are the benefits of ISO 14001:2015?
Using ISO 14001:2015 has many benefits for organizations with environmental management systems. Organizations and companies find that using the standard helps them:

Improve resource efficiency
Reduce waste
Drive down costs
Provide assurance that environmental impact is being measured
Gain competitive advantage in supply chain design
Increase new business opportunities
Meet legal obligations
Increase stakeholder and customer trust
Improve overall environmental impact
Manage environmental obligations with consistency


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