An introduction to the ISO 14001 standard

Last updated 2015.

ISO 14001 Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use is an international standard for the development of effective environmental management systems applicable to all industry types. The original ISO 14001 standard was first released by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in Amsterdam in September of 1996 and whereby the current version was approved by ISO in 2015.

The ISO 14001 standard specifies a process for the control and the continuous improvement of an organisation’s environmental performance. The management tool enables an organisation to identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products and services; to continuously improve its environmental performance; and, to implement a systematic approach to set and achieve environmental objectives and targets.

The ISO 14001 standard applies to those environmental aspects identified and controlled or influenced by the organisation.  The ISO 14001 standard does not specify environmental performance criteria but merely how to develop an EMS.

Currently within Australia there are nearly 4,000 organisations certified to the highly recognisable ISO 14001 standard. At the end of December 2008 there were over 188,000 organisations globally that had been issued ISO 14001 certificates. A total of 155 countries had organisations participating in the scheme. The diagram below illustrates the ISO 2008 Survey results for ISO 14001:2004 standard.

ISO 14001 Standard - 2008 Survey Results

The ISO 14001 standard differs from ISO 14000. This is because ISO 14000 refers to the standards of the environmental management series developed by the International Standards Organisation while the ISO 14001 standard is the document containing specific EMS requirements.

ISO 14001 standard