ISO 14000 is a group of standards, all of which relate to dealing effectively with environmental responsibility:
Note that ISO 14001, an Environmental Management System, is a management standard, not a performance or product standard. Its underlying purpose is that companies will improve their environmental performance, but the document itself does not set any standards either for performance or the level of improvement. This is because ISO 14001 is actually a process for managing company activities that impact on the environment.
Although aiming at meeting environmental objectives, the process (Figure 1) is also intended to be an eventual source of success for the company.
ISO 14001 is at least unusual, and arguably unique, in that it is:
This systems approach, where the process is observed and assessed against agreed standards, and appropriate corrective action is taken, is a recurring theme in electronics and quality. However, in most cases feedback comes from the output, and is used to correct the process, whereas in environmental management (Figure 2) both feedback and corrective actions affect all three areas, input, process and output.
An ISO 14001 approved company must have:
In order to exercise control, the company needs documented control of operations in accordance with the standard. As with ISO 9000, this has a multi-section structure (Figure 3):
The company must also have reviewed all the environmental aspects, and identified both any significant impacts and the relevant legal and other requirements. Typically the audits follow the same broad outline as the topics covered by the EMS procedures.
Other significant activities in implementing ISO 14001 relate to:
Figure 4 shows the importance of:
In fact, as is emphasized in the alternative diagram in Figure 5, implementing an EMS is very much an iterative process.
idea from: Martin 1998
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