How Can My Business Achieve ISO 14001?

ISO 14001, one of the most sought-after internationally recognised standards on environmental management worldwide, sets out a comprehensive framework for businesses and organisations that will help to cement their sustainability credentials.

It is the framework on which to develop a comprehensive series of processes and procedures that will lead to an effective Environmental Management System (EMS), or Environmental Policy, that meets ISO 14001 requirements and boosts reputation on an international scale.

What do we need to do to achieve ISO 14001 certification?

ISO 14001 has been created to help a business/organisation gain the maximum benefits of having an EMS or sustainability policy. It will:

  • Help build robust environmental management systems.
  • Set benchmarks against which environmental performance can be measured.
  • Help reduce their impact on the environment and provide a framework they can follow to create a positive environmental impact.

The ISO 14001 requirements are broken down into 10 sections, or clauses, that provide the outline to:

  • Create and develop an environmental policy that reflects the business/organisation’s commitment to environmental management.
  • Identify how the business/organisation and its stakeholders, interact with the environment.
  • Ascertain the potential and actual impact on their environment.
  • Recognise environmental compliance requirements.
  • Establish objectives, targets, processes and procedures to achieve their environmental goals.
  • Set out how the business/organisation will monitor and measure its progress in achieving its objectives and goals.
  • Detail regular reviews of their environmental policy, objectives, goals and performance.
  • Develop a programme of continuous improvement of their environmental performance.

There are 7 key areas that a business/organisation need to focus on to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation:

Clause 4 – Context of the Organisation

To identify, monitor and review internal and external issues relevant to your business or organisation, and its environmental performance. Documented environmental processes and procedures detail the needs and expectations of your business or organisation from all employees and suppliers.

Clause 5 – Leadership

Develop an Environmental Policy that sets out environmental objectives and reviews, the importance of environmental performance throughout the business or organisation, and how leaders are involved in the way the business acts in creating an environmentally-conscious culture.

Clause 6 – Planning

Demonstrate the processes and controls required to manage the business or organisation’s environmental performance, including:

  • Document the major risks facing the business or organisation.
  • Document the business or organisation’s environmental aspects and associated impacts.
  • Consider compliance requirements on the business or organisation from a contractual and legal point of view.
  • Setting environmental objectives – strategic, product, project, process or service – which drive environmental performance.

Clause 7 – Support

The management system that supports the environmental objectives and performance, including an ISO representative within the business or organisation that champions ISO 14001requirements, as well as staff awareness and communication.

Clause 8 – Operations

The business or organisation should conduct its operations in a controlled, measured way that ensures any changes or integrations enhance rather than compromise environmental performance, such as the ‘life cycle perspective.’

Clause 9 – Performance Evaluation

There are four parts to performance evaluation:

  • Demonstrate the business or organisation is monitoring environmental performance.
  • Conduct a periodical evaluation of compliance and confirm the business or organisation is operating in line with all legislation.
  • Demonstrate and document regular internal audits of management systems to review performance.
  • Hold periodic management reviews and reporting by ISO representative to the leadership team.

Clause 10 – Improvement

The mechanism of a non-conformance process for continual improvement incorporating constructive review of systems, should issues occur, and how the root cause was addressed.

The benefits of ISO 14001 ensure compliance with the rules and regulations surrounding environmental management, as well as meeting consumer and client expectations. However, it is not mandatory and neither is it a requirement for any UK regulations. At JR Consultants, we work with a wide variety of businesses across many industries in their efforts to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation.

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Clare Louise