What the revised ISO14001 means for you

By Suzanne Orme

An updated version of ISO14001 was published in September 2015.

The new version is intended to maintain and improve the basic principles and existing requirements of ISO14001:2004.  The new elements and requirements, summarised below, bolt on fairly easily to any ISO14001 based system.

However the new clause numbers and structure pose more of a challenge.  It is based on a new high level structure for Management System Standards, called Annex XL, different from the “plan-do-check-act” principle that management system practitioners are familiar with.

Changes include:

  • Specific responsibilities for people in leadership roles to promote environmental management within the organisation.
  • A new requirement to understand environmentally-related organisational risks and opportunities and to integrate those that are critical into operational planning.
  • An expanded expectation to commit to proactive initiatives to protect the environment which can include sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation and protecting biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • A shift in emphasis from continual improvement of the management system to improvement of environmental performance
  • An extension of control and influence beyond procured goods and services to  product use and end-of-life treatment or disposal.
  • The development of a communication strategy with equal emphasis on external and internal communication and quality of information.
  • Use of the words “documented information” instead of “documents and records” recognising the use of computerised systems.

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This article was updated after release of the standard.

4 thoughts on “What the revised ISO14001 means for you

  • Lauren P
    April 1, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for the update Suzy. I was wondering what the changes will be and what I have to do to update the EMS.

  • Lauren P
    April 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Hopefully we’ll see the draft standard in the next few months. I’ll post another blog then.


  • Shaun N
    June 20, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Its good to know what will be coming up and that the standard will be strengthened in some key areas.

    • Suzanne Orme
      June 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Yes – I like to inclusion of “opportunities” as well as “risks”. This will include an identification of new technologies and government funding that may get improvement initiatives over the line. This will widen people’s awareness of the great things that are now possible.

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