Environment ISO14001:2015 Updates

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The role of top management in implementing environmental initiatives is greatly enhanced in the 2015 version. The standard mandates that top management must take the lead in integrating the environmental management practices into their organisations core strategies, process and priorities. The setting of environmental objectives and goals will need to be a key part of the business planning process and also constant monitoring and feedback by senior management in the organisation will be critical.
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Change in thinking of what constitutes compliance

There is a move from the term “legal and other requirements” to compliance obligations, which is defined as a “requirement that an organisation has to or chooses to comply with. This key change is aimed at ensuring the organisation is committed to the “protection of the environment, including the prevention of pollution and other specific aspects relating to the context of the organisation”. This requires senior management to have greater knowledge around what constitutes “other” specific aspects. The fosters the thought process of going above and beyond just legislative compliance and identifying best industry practice in regards to environmental initiatives.
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Risk-Based Approach

Identifying the significant aspects within the business are still a key component of the ISO14001:2015. However, there is greater emphasis placed on the organisation to understand its risk profile. A new requirement is to consider from a “life-cycle perspective” when identifying aspects. This will include the significant aspects relating to the business during the procurement of products and services, during the processing of products and services through to end-of-life treatments.

An aspects and impacts register is an important part of seeking certification to ISO14001. A thorough review of the whole business should be undertaken to ensure all areas are covered. Risks can be classed as positive (opportunities) or negative (threats). There is currently a note in the draft standard in regards to controlling these aspects which references a hierarchy of controls, starting with elimination, substitution and administrative controls, which aligns with existing work, health and safety management systems. This further demonstrates the intent of a movement towards harmonization with other management system standards.
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Operational Control

Significantly different concepts have been introduced under “Operational planning and control” in the new standard. As previously mentioned consideration of the “life cycle perspective” is key. This is a cradle to the grave concept of process management. The identification of appropriate suppliers and contractors will need to be demonstrated in order to show compliance with this element. From an organisations perspective having key environmental components as part of a contractor selection and evaluation process will be achieve the desired outcome during auditing of the management system.

The “interested parties” term which is an area that a business needs to identify and understand the needs of as part of the revision to the standard. Interested parties would likely include those such as consumers, recyclers and regulators in regards to having consideration to the life-cycle of a product or service.
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Performance Evaluation

Use of performance indicator criteria and the term environmental condition has been introduced into the draft standard in conjunction with the definition of performance. Environmental condition described in the draft as a “state or characteristic of the environment as determined at a certain point in time”.

Top management should key in setting the performance criteria for the organisation up front and need to ensure that constant review and monitoring of the criteria is undertaken to allow for efforts to be directed in the right way in achieving the objectives.
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Preventative Action

The draft standard does not include specific requirements for preventative action. This change is due to the realisation that the key purpose of a formal management system is to act as a preventative tool in itself. There is still the requirement to

• Assess the organisations external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that effect its ability to achieve the intended outcomes
• Implement actions to address risks associated with threats and opportunities.

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Identical Structures

Going forward all management system will have identical structures to ISO14001:2015 enabling easier integration and improved management. This will allow organisations to implement several management systems in a harmonized, structured and efficient manner. The aim here is allowing for a business to focus their attention on understanding, planning and operating their business processes.

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