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ISO 14001:2015 was newly published in September 2015, it is already valid without constraints.

The essential requirements can be summed up by the following aspects:

  • Implementation of the HLS as defined in Annex SL of the ISO Directives Part 1
  • A firm demand for risk-based thinking to support and improve understanding of the process-oriented approach.
  • The organization has greater creative freedom in implementing the requirements
  • Specific documents lose meaning
  • Concrete requirements for the definition of the constraints of the environmental management system
  • Extended meaning regarding the context of the organization
  • Extension of the definition of the customer concept to the interested parties and their requirements
  • Extended requirements for the leadership of the organization

The following interested parties shall benefit from it:

  • Organizations certified according to or confronted with ISO 14001
  • Accreditation bodies
  • Certification bodies
  • Training institutions, trainers and mentors

PDCA-Zyklus im UM

PDCA-Zyklus im UM
Source: ISO 14001:2015

The revision of the standard aims to include the environmental management system into the core strategy of the organization.

To reach this goal, the following changes have been made:

Greater responsibility of the CEO(s):
The term “top management” has been defined more precisely to shape the environmental management system more strategically and to include it more into the processes relevant for making decisions. The managers for environment, sustainability and CSR should work closer together with the top manager.

Life cycle approach:
: It is required to include environmental impacts along the whole value chain and to consider life cycle related aspects (even if no formal life cycle analysis is required).

Thinking about the effects:
For the first time, we are confronted with the term “ecological status” in this new revision, which describes long-term changes of the environment regarding actions, products and services of an organization and sometimes lead to a need of action. Therefore, the organizations shall think about how the environment effects them, and not about how they infect the environment. The latter is seen as a distinct weakness of the current version of ISO 14001.

Risks and chances:
The organization is obliged to provide evidence about the handling of high risks and possibilities along the supply chain. It has to prove that it has established a link between ecological aspects and that it knows about their connection to the business. The organization also has to determine how the interfaces between those environmental aspects and the business are handled.

Proactive reporting:
The revision shall make the organization approach the reports about environmental aspects more active and show that they know how to use and control ecological data.

Enhanced conformity:
The provision on conformity assessment has been tightened. Previously, only conformity itself was assessed, now it is necessary to specify how it is to be assessed and documented.

Constant improvement:
There is a stronger emphasis on the commitment to constant improvement. A specific clause has been developed which follows the guidelines of the top-management which leaves less room for misinterpretation.

All of the above aims to make the environmental management system (and ISO 14001) more useful for the business.