The move from ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015

We as organisations are forced to look at the impact that our business processes have on our country and environment. Equally, to assure business sustainability we have to consider the risks the environment poses to the organisation.

When looking at consumption in South Africa alone, 90% of our energy is generated as electricity. This is generated from coal fired power stations which emit CO2 and SO3 – Greenhouse gases that cause Global Warming.

Organisations have the responsibility to reduce the impact that they have on the environment, which can be done through ISO 14001. Risk ZA breaks down the ISO 14001 and the latest update to ISO 14001:2015 from ISO 14001:2004, with the deadline for the transition being September 2018.

What is ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems?

The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standards set out specific requirements for effective management of the business activities with consideration of environmental factors. It helps organisations effectively monitor and manage their resources and their impacts on the environment as well as the threats the environment poses to the organisation. This standard allows for the integration of management systems to simultaneously satisfy other management system standards, such as ISO 9001:2015 and also follows the PDCA cycle (plan, do, check, act) to ensure continual improvement.


What are the differences between ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14001:2015?

The main changes between the 2004 version and the 2015 version is the move to compliance with the new High Level Structure (HLS), which creates a common framework between other management systems standards. This aids organisations to maintain consistency, apply common language across standards and align different management system standards.  As mentioned previously, the standard  follows the PDCA cycle (plan, do, check, act) to ensure easy integration into core business processes alongside other management systems (e.g. integrating with ISO 9001:2015).

Following this change is the increased importance of environmental management within the strategic planning processes of the organisation. Organisations will now need to have a greater understanding of the important issues that can affect, be it positive or negative, the management of its environmental responsibilities. Such changes now require greater involvement from top management and others in leadership roles, within the organisation. ISO 14001:2015 requires the addition of proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and possible degradation, through sustainable resource use by the organisation. ISO 14001:2015 also has expanded it’s operational control requirements and requires a risk-based approach for planning and controls, much like the new ISO 9001:2015 standard.

Amongst the many changes is also the addition of a communications strategy. ISO 14001:2015 now lays out explicit and more detailed requirements for both internal and external communications within the organisation, with regard to Environmental Management.


How can ISO 14001:2015 benefit my organisation?

ISO 14001:2015 can be used by any organisation that seeks to set up, improve or maintain an Environmental Management System to comply with its established policy and legal requirements. This standard is relevant to all organisations as each of us have an impact on the environment.

Implementing ISO 14001:2015 can help your organisation by:

  • Improving your organisation’s resource efficiency
  • Reducing waste in the organisation
  • Lowering potential liability
  • Accurately measuring the impact of the organisation on the environment
  • Gaining competitive advantage in supply chain design
  • Increasing opportunities for the business
  • Meeting legal obligations
  • Increasing stakeholder and customer trust
  • Managing environmental obligations with consistency


Transitioning to ISO 14001:2015

The release of the third edition of ISO 14001 has confirmed that its changes are the most significant seen since its initial release. These amendments dictate that a traditional approach to system design and auditing will simply not suffice. A reminder to all that the deadline for the transition to ISO 14001:2015 is September 2018. Risk ZA’s ISO 14001: 2015 Auditor Transition Training Course will provide the insight needed to understand what is required to satisfy ISO 14001:2015.

This 3-day course ensures that you:

  • Have a comprehensive knowledge of relevant elements of Environmental Management Systems
  • Develop capacity to support strategic Environmental Management arrangements
  • Provides an unrivalled understanding of the requirements and nuances of ISO 14001:2015.

To enquire about our public and inhouse training, you can email or find our training schedule to see when the next courses are running:

For those who are new to the standard and/or cannot attend the training, please visit our Online Learning page, where you can access details about our online ISO 14001:2015 Intro & Overview Self-Study:

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