ISO 14001 EMS

The ISO 14000 is a family of internationally recognized standards for environmental management systems that is applicable to any business or organization, regardless of size, location or income. These standards are developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which has representation from committees all over the world. The ISO 14000 family includes most notably the ISO 14001 standard, which represents the core set of standards used by organizations for designing and implementing an effective environmental management system. Other standards included in this series are ISO 14004, which gives additional guidelines for a good environmental management system, and more specialized standards dealing with specific aspects of environmental management.

The ISO 14000 environmental management standards exist to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment. The major objective of the ISO 14000 series of norms is "to promote more effective and efficient environmental management in organizations and to provide useful and usable tools - ones that are cost effective, system-based, flexible and reflect the best organizations and the best organizational practices available for gathering, interpreting and communicating environmentally relevant information".

It offers a source of guidance for introducing and adopting environmental management systems based on the best universal practices, in the same way that the ISO 9000 series on quality management systems, which is now widely applied, represents a tool for technology transfer of the best available quality management practices. In structure the ISO 14000 series is similar to ISO 9000 quality management and both can be implemented side by side.

ISO 14001 is the principal management system standard which specifies the requirements for the formulation and maintenance of an EMS. There are three fundamental commitments required in an environmental policy that meets the requirements of ISO 14001. These include:

  • prevention of pollution
  • compliance with legislation
  • continual improvement of the EMS


These commitments help drive the improvements in overall environmental performance.


ISO 14001 can be used as a tool; it focuses on controlling your environmental aspects or the way that your activities products and services interact with the environment; for example, emissions to air, land or water. Organisations must describe what they intend to do, adhere to their procedures and record their efforts to demonstrate compliance and improvement. You will set objectives, targets and implement a programme to improve your environmental performance which often leads to financial benefits.

Organisations are required to identify applicable legal, statutory and related requirements. It is particularly important to identify how the legislation affects you so that compliance measures can be adopted and periodically evaluated ensuring requirements are understood by employees and implemented effectively.

ISO 14001 is accompanied by ISO 14004, Environmental Management systems - General Guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques. This standard covers issues such as the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an MS and discusses the principle issues involved.

Benefits of ISO 14001:2004

  • Improved environmental performance led by top management commitment
  • Cost savings can be achieved through improved efficiencies in energy and water usage and through waste minimization
  • Reduced risk of pollution incidents and other releases to the environment and therefore avoidance of unnecessary clean up costs and/or enforcement action by regulatory bodies
  • Compliance with legislation through the identification of new legislation in adequate time to address appropriate issues
  • Reduced risk of non-compliance with legislation and subsequent costs/prosecution
  • Improved brand image as customers will see an organization that is in control of its impact on the environment
  • Improved business focus and communication of environmental issues
  • Improved profitability through costs reductions and improved customer satisfaction.



ISO 9001:2008