What’s new in ISO 14001:2015?

The ISO 14000 family covers environmental management systems and ISO 14001 is currently undergoing a revision process, which is due for completion and production of the updated version by the end of 2015.  All ISO standards undergo this review procedure every five years in order to keep up to date with the latest trends and to keep it relevant in the marketplace and compatible with other management system standards. So what’s new with ISO 14001:2015 and what should you be preparing yourself for?

Improving management and performance



The latest version of ISO 14001 will place greater emphasis on the improvement of environmental management and   performance.  All the ISO standards provide the tools for this including aspects of product life cycle analysis and the environmental impact of processes such as the consumption of energy and materials, and waste management.

Changing the structure

The first major change will come to the structure of the ISO standard, which was originally written to the ten part ‘High Level Structure’, which included parameters around scope, terms and definitions, context of the organisation, leadership and planning, and improvements.  It is expected that the new unified structure will make the implementation process much simpler.

Three new concepts are added to this list: supply chain, value chain, and product life cycle, which are indicative of the increased responsibilities of companies beyond traditional boundaries, namely the expectation to be environmentally conscientious.  And whereas previous versions of ISO 14001 contained a separate section which dealt with preventive measures, the new standard brings these into the sphere of responsibility as a centrally important issue.

This new understanding of company responsibility is reflective of current and future political developments within the European Union area regarding environmental impact.  In fact, Germany led the way with the introduction of their waste and recycling management law in 2012. Another change concerns management system conformity evaluation procedures, which will become a continuous and ongoing task; the readability of the new document will also make the standard more user-friendly.

Reducing negative impact, but having a positive impact

Other changes concern the impact of external factors on environmental aims in that organisations will be expected to take these into account and the implementation of environmental management systems will be the full responsibility of top managers, to include the correlation of data for the planning of the business in relation to the environment.  Organisations will be expected to not only undertake to reduce negative impact on the environment but also work towards having a positive effect in actively improving environmental conditions.  In this respect, the new emphasis will be on voluntary ‘self-commitment’; potentially with the involvement of trading partners and/or clients, to achieve the raising of an organisation’s profile in the field of good environmental practices such as the assessment and efficient management of raw materials from the beginning of a usage process to the end-of-life process.


Organisations still certified to ISO 14001:2004 will be granted a transition period of at least one year following the publication of the review in which to migrate their EMS onto the new standard.  After the transition period ends certification for the 2004 standard will be out of date.  Companies will then have to decide whether to apply for certification to the new standard.

As always, Synergos will be here to help navigate your way through ISO 14001:2015. If you have any questions on the new requirements, or are looking to be accredited for the first time, then call us on 01484 817444, email info@synergosconsultancy.co.uk

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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