28 August 2018

Revised Environmental Management System: Dead line, 15 September 2018

ISO 14001 was changed in 2015 and the dead line for environmentally certified companies to adapt their environmental management systems to comply with the new version is getting very close: September 15, 2018.

ISO 14001:2015 has been structured in accordance with the principles defined by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) so that its compatibility with other ISO certification standards, namely ISO 9001, increases significantly, by following a common structure. From all the changes introduced by the new version of the standard, we think it is important for our clients to pay special attention to:

  • The context of the organization where it should be applied (requirement 4 of the standard):
    • Identification of internal and external issues that are relevant to the organization and its purpose;
    • The needs and expectations of stakeholders, being the organization responsible for defining which stakeholders are relevant. In many situations the relevant clients, shareholders and employees of the organization may be considered relevant stakeholders, but this point should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis;
    • The organization shall also define what needs and expectations of the relevant stakeholders are deemed to be compliance obligations, i.e. those which the organization considers having a "force of law";
  • The existence of any written (documented) procedure is no longer mandatory. The company must define which are, or not, necessary to be written;
  • Top management is presented in this standard as the primal responsible for the effectiveness of the environmental management system;
  • In addition to the environmental aspects and associated impacts already mentioned in the previous version of the standard, in “Planning” (requirement 6 of the standard) were introduced the necessary actions to address risks and opportunities that result from the previously mentioned compliance obligations, as well as from the context of the organization and the needs and expectations of relevant stakeholders;
  • The concept of actions resulting from the risk analysis replaces the concept of preventive actions of the previous version of the standard, considering that these actions are aimed at preventing a possible risk (threat) while the actions resulting from the opportunities are effects with potential benefits;
  • Environmental aspects must now be determined by considering a life-cycle perspective of the product or service, from obtaining raw materials or production from natural resources to final destination;
  • Communication (internal and external) must be developed through the need for relevant information at various levels of the organization and stakeholders.

In conclusion, this is a standard that introduces significant changes in environmental management systems, being an evolution in continuity, that is, it is not a rupture with the previous version of the standard, but rather the development of already existing concepts.

Pedro Marques, Universidade Europeia Teaching Assitant, Senior Auren Portugal Consultant, Trainer, Internal Management System Auditor 

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