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ISO 14000 is a family of standards related to environmental management that exists to help organizations (a) minimize how their operations (processes, etc.) negatively affect the environment (i.e., cause adverse changes to air, water, or land) (b) comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements, and (c) continually improve in the above. ISO 14000 is similar to ISO 9000 quality management in that both pertain to the process of how a product is produced, rather than to the product itself. ISO 14001:2015 sets out the criteria for an Environmental Management System (EMS). It does not state requirements for environmental performance,  but maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective EMS. It can be used by any organization that wants to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, and drive down costs. Using ISO 14001:2015 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. ISO 14001 can also be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals. ISO 14001 is voluntary, with its main aim to assist companies in continually improving their environmental performance, while complying with any applicable legislation. Organizations are responsible for setting their own targets and performance measures, with the standard serving to assist them in meeting objectives and goals and in the subsequent monitoring and measurement of these. The standard can be applied to a variety of levels in the business, from organizational level, right down to the product and service level. Rather than focusing on exact measures and goals of environmental performance, the standard highlights what an organization needs to do to meet these goals. ISO 14001 is known as a generic management system standard, meaning that it is relevant to any organization seeking to improve and manage resources more effectively. This includes:
  • single-site to large multi-national companies
  • high-risk companies to low-risk service organizations
  • manufacturing, process, and the service industries, including local governments
  • all industry sectors including public and private sectors
  • original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers.

Plan Do Check Act Methodology of EMS

1.       Plan–establish objectives and processes required

Prior to implementing ISO 14001, an initial review or gap analysis of the organization’s processes and products is recommended, to assist in identifying all elements of the current operation and, if possible, future operations, that may interact with the environment, termed “environmental aspects” . Environmental aspects can include both direct, such as those used during manufacturing, and indirect, such as raw materials. This review assists the organization in establishing their environmental objectives, goals, and targets, which should ideally be measurable; helps with the development of control and management procedures and processes; and serves to highlight any relevant legal requirements, which can then be built into the policy .

2.      Do–implement the processes

During this stage, the organization identifies the resources required and works out those members of the organization responsible for the EMS’ implementation and control . This includes establishing procedures and processes, although only one documented procedure is specified related to operational control. Other procedures are required to foster better management control over elements such as documentation control, emergency preparedness and response, and the education of employees, to ensure that they can competently implement the necessary processes and record results . Communication and participation across all levels of the organization, especially top management, is a vital part of the implementation phase, with the effectiveness of the EMS being dependent on active involvement from all employees.

3.      Check–measure and monitor the processes and report results

During the ‘check’ stage, performance is monitored and periodically measured to ensure that the organization’s environmental targets and objectives are being met. In addition, internal audits are conducted at planned intervals to ascertain whether the EMS meets the user’s expectations and whether the processes and procedures are being adequately maintained and monitored.

4.      Act–take action to improve performance of EMS based on results

After the checking stage, a management review is conducted to ensure that the objectives of the EMS are being met, the extent to which they are being met, and that communications are being appropriately managed; and to evaluate changing circumstances, such as legal requirements, in order to make recommendations for further improvement of the system . These recommendations are incorporated through continual improvement: plans are renewed or new plans are made, and the EMS moves forward.