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International Organization for Standardization's environmental management standard 14001 has entered the draft stage, allowing public commentary on revisions.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced in August 2014 that proposed revisions to ISO 14001, an international standard for environmental management systems, were opened for comment.
The ISO 14000 standards focus on environmental management and provide the information that companies need to understand how to reduce their environmental impact and increase efficiency. ISO 14001 specifically targets environmental management systems; the proposed revision will expand the focus on environmental protection to include proactive solutions and top management responsibilities.
The standard is in the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage, fourth of six stages through which standard revisions move. In the three month-long DIS stage, any person can submit feedback and suggested changes to the revision committee. ISO standards are reviewed every five years to respond to trends and ensure that compatibility remains among all ISO standards.
An ISO report on emerging changes in the 14001 standard outlines seven specific areas that will be addressed in the revision. Each of the seven areas affects companies trying to commit to environmental protection as a business priority.
The proposed Strategic Environmental Protection clause features a requirement to identify and leverage opportunities that benefit the organization and the environment, with a focus on issues or changing circumstances related to the needs and expectations of interested parties, regulatory requirements, and local, regional or global environmental conditions that can be affected by the organization.
The proposed Leadership clause adds assignments for specific responsibilities for individuals in leadership positions to increase the role of environmental management in an organization.
The standard’s Protecting the Environment clause will be expanded to include proactive measures for companies to commit to when adopting a greener business strategy. The overall evaluation will place expectations on companies to “protect the environment” to the best of their ability and with consistency to the company’s mission. Protection of the environment is open to interpretation depending on the company’s directives, with paths including more stringent pollution standards, adoption of sustainable resources, and protection of affected ecosystems.
The proposed Environmental Performance clause shifts emphasis from improving the company management system to focusing on reducing emissions and waste that impact the environment. Similarly, the Lifecycle Thinking clause will be expanded from concerns of environmental impact of goods and services to the entire lifespan of the product, including use and disposal.
The Communication clause will be expanded to include individuals working within the company to make suggestions for a greener business strategy, improved communication with regulatory agencies, and other companies.
Finally, the Documentation section will be changed to give companies the resources to decide when measures need to be taken to “ensure effective process control.” This amendment to the original standard also takes into account compatibility with ISO 9001, which focuses on the requirements of a quality management system.
At the end of the DIS stage in November, the standard will move into the Final Draft International Stage. Publication is expected for the end of 2015