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ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized environmental management standard that specifies requirements for environmental management systems. The standard was first published in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is part of the 14000 family of standards, which comprises numerous other standards governing various aspects of environmental management.
The overriding objective of the standard is to promote environmental protection in accordance with economic, social and political needs, and to prevent environmental pollution. The standard is designed to help companies measure, manage and improve their environmental impact.
The latest ISO 14001:2015 is thematically structured into seven sections, and takes into account legal obligations as well as other major environmental aspects:
- Context of the organization/company
- Assessment of performance
Organizations, companies and individual sites of any size and type can be certified based on the ISO 14001 rules and regulations. Certification by an authorized certification body serves to verify the correct application of the standard and communicates environmentally sound behavior to internal and external stakeholders.
To achieve a continuous improvement process, the ISO 14001 (like all ISO standards) is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act method. In the first step, objectives and processes are determined for putting the organization’s environmental policies into practice. In the second step, the processes are put into action. The third step provides for monitoring compliance with regard to legal requirements and the targets set and, if applicable, the publication of environmental performance. In the final step, the processes are optimized as needed.
The international standard underwent its first revision in 2004, and a second major revision in 2015. The most recent revision takes into account the context of the company or organization, requires the stronger integration of senior management, includes outsourced processes in the environmental management system, and gives greater weight to performance indicators. A three-year transitional period has been set for the introduction of the new ISO 14001:2015. During this period, both the old ISO 14001:2004 and the new standard are valid.
In addition to the international, English-language edition of the standard, there are other European versions. In Germany, the German Institute for Standardization (Deutsches Institut für Normung - DIN) transferred the standard into the currently valid ISO 14001:2015-11, which was published on November 1, 2015.
Status: December 2015
All information subject to change. Errors and omissions excepted.