The popular ISO 14001 environmental management standard has been revised ahead of its updated release in September 2015, with experts urging companies to start their preparations now.
The ISO 14001 standard is one of the most widely used methods for setting up an environmental management system (EMS) to cover environmental issues such as waste and energy use in a business.
The revised standard puts more emphasis on senior management leadership, risk management and integrating an environmental management system with an organisation’s wider business context and supply chain. Certified organisations will have up to three years to become compliant with the revisions.
The latest available data shows that the number of ISO 14001 certified businesses worldwide has now exceeded 300,000, highlighting its growing importance for improving environmental management and maintaining competitive advantage.
Nigel Leehane, chair for environmental management systems at the British Standards Institution (BSI), said: “The objective of the new standard is to ensure that organisations address broader environmental issues than simply prevention of pollution, not just in order to reduce environmental impacts, but so that organisations benefit from improved efficiency.”
The broader remit of the revised standard was also echoed by Martin Baxter, chief policy advisor at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
“The revision to 14001 needs to be considered in a broad economic and environmental context, particularly as the new standard will in all probability be around until the mid-2020s”, he said.
“ISO 14001 has to help organisations cut costs, improve productivity, capitalise on business opportunities, maintain and enhance brand and reputation, and reduce business risks. However, the environmental context is changing.
“More and more organisations are seeing the benefits of taking a longer-term perspective on the way that the environment will influence their future success.”
Among other things, the revision will add a new high level structure to the standard and feature new terms and definitions to make the system easier to integrate.
Speaking to ENDS, David Fatscher, head of market development for sustainability at BSI, said he hoped the revision would broaden the appeal of ISO 14001 to SMEs, highlighting that many SMEs already focus on environmental management whether they know it or not.
“[As an SME], you're probably not as far away as you think you are from behaving like an organisation that recognises and sees value in environmental management. It's all those things that keep SME managing directors awake at night. It doesn't have to be viewed as a clunky overhead”, he said.
Further information about the ISO 14001 revision is available on the BSI website.