Tackling environmental challenges

ISO 14000 Standards for environmental management have achieved a worldwide impact. The ISO 14000 family of Standards has evolved to provide comprehensive solutions to the range of environmental challenges facing business, government, and society today.

ISO 14000 Standards not only provide environmental benefits, but also significant tangible economic benefits, including the following.

  • Reduced raw material/resource use
  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Improved process efficiency
  • Reduced waste generation and disposal costs
  • Use of recoverable resources

The best known environmental ISO Standard is ISO 14001:2004 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, the world's most recognised framework for environmental management systems (EMS) – implemented from Argentina to Zimbabwe – that helps organisations both to manage better the impact of their activities on the environment and to demonstrate sound environmental management.

ISO 14001 has been adopted as a national Standard by over half of the 160 national members of ISO and its use is encouraged by governments around the world. Although certification of conformity to the Standard is not a requirement of ISO 14001, at the end of 2007 at least 154 572 certificates had been issued in 148 countries and economies.

ISO and the environment

ISO has a multi-faceted approach to meeting the needs of all stakeholders from business, industry, governmental authorities, non-governmental organisations, and consumers, in the environment sector.

  • ISO has developed Standards that help organisations to take a proactive approach to managing environmental issues: the ISO 14000 family of environmental management Standards, which can be implemented in any type of organisation in either public or private sectors – from companies to administrations to public utilities.
  • ISO is helping to meet the challenge of climate change with Standards for greenhouse gas accounting, verification, and emissions trading, and for measuring the carbon footprint of products.
  • ISO develops normative documents to facilitate the fusion of business and environmental goals by encouraging the inclusion of environmental aspects in product design.
  • ISO offers a wide-ranging portfolio of Standards for sampling and test methods to deal with specific environmental challenges. It has developed some 570 international Standards for the monitoring of such aspects as the quality of air, water, and the soil, as well as noise, radiation, and for controlling the transport of dangerous goods. The Standards also serve in a number of countries as the technical basis for environmental regulations.

Environmental management and sustainability

ISO international Standards and related normative documents provide consumers, regulators, and organisations in both public and private sectors with environmental tools with the following characteristics.

  • Technically credible. ISO Standards represent the sum of knowledge of a broad pool of international expertise and stakeholders.
  • Fulfil stakeholder needs. The ISO Standards development process is based on international input and consensus.
  • Facilitate the development of uniform requirements. The ISO Standards development process is built on participation by its national member institutes from all regions of the world.
  • Promote efficiencies when the same Standards are implemented across markets, sectors, and/or jurisdictions.
  • Support regulatory compliance when the Standards are used to meet market and regulatory needs.
  • Enhance investor confidence because the Standards can be used for conformity assessment such as by audit, inspection, or certification. This enhances confidence in products, services, and systems that can be demonstrated to conform to ISO Standards, and provides practical support for regulation.

ISO/Technical Committee 207 – 'Environmental management'

Origins

ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, 'Environmental management', is responsible for developing and maintaining the ISO 14000 family of Standards. The committee's current portfolio includes 21 published international Standards and other types of normative document, with another nine new or revised documents in preparation.

ISO/TC 207 was established in 1993 as a result of ISO's commitment to respond to the complex challenge of 'sustainable development', articulated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

It also stemmed from an intensive consultation process, carried out within the framework of the ISO Strategic Advisory Group on Environment (SAGE). SAGE was established in 1991 and brought together representatives of a variety of countries and international organisations – more than 100 environmental experts – who helped to define how international Standards could support better environmental management.

As a result, the ISO 14000 family of Standards for environmental management was launched to provide a practical toolbox to assist in the implementation of actions supportive to sustainable development.

Compatibility

From its beginning, it was recognised that ISO/TC 207 should cooperate closely with ISO/TC 176, 'Quality management and quality assurance' – the ISO technical committee responsible for the ISO 9000 family of quality management Standards – in the areas of management systems, auditing, and related terminology.

Successful steps have been taken to ensure compatibility of the ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 Standards to help organisations that wish to implement both environmental and quality management systems to benefit themselves and their customers and stakeholders. These steps include a common Standard (ISO 19011:2002 Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing) giving guidelines for auditing environmental and/or quality management systems.

Global participation

Membership of ISO/TC 207 is among the highest of any ISO technical committee and is both broad and diverse in representation, two key indicators of the worldwide interest in the work of this technical committee. National delegations of environmental experts from over 100 countries participate in ISO/TC 207, including 27 developing countries. The leadership of the committee is 'twinned' between a developed and developing country (currently Canada and Brazil).

New Zealand participation

New Zealand participates on all subcommittees of ISO/TC 207. New Zealand's participation on ISO/TC 207 subcommittee 1 was bolstered recently with the establishment of a New Zealand international review group to provide New Zealand's view on environmental management system Standards.

Scope of ISO/TC 207's work

Published documents and ongoing work of ISO/TC 207 address the following areas.

  • Environmental management systems
  • Environmental auditing and related environmental investigations
  • Environmental performance evaluation
  • Environmental labelling
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Environmental communication
  • Environmental aspects of product design and development
  • Environmental aspects in product Standards
  • Terms and definitions
  • Greenhouse gas management and related activities
  • Measuring the carbon footprint of products

Overview of the ISO 14000 family of Standards

Published Standards

The ISO 14000 family of Standards reflects international consensus on good environmental and business practice that can be applied by organisations all over the world in their specific context.

The ISO 14000 family uses the same Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle underlying all ISO management systems Standards. The following table classifies the Standards published in the ISO 14000 family according to their optimal place in the PDCA cycle.

Plan

Do

Check

Act

Environmental management system implementation

Conduct life cycle assessment and manage
environmental aspects

Conduct audits and evaluate environmental
performance

Communicate and use environmental declarations and claims

ISO 14050:2009
Environmental management – Vocabulary

ISO 14040:2006
Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework

AS/NZS ISO 14015:2003
Environmental management – Environmental assessment of sites and organizations (EASO)

ISO 14020:2000
Environmental labels and declarations – General principles

AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004
Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use

ISO 14044:2006
Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines

AS/NZS ISO 14031:2000
Environmental management – Environmental performance evaluation – Guidelines

AS/NZS ISO 14021:1999
Environmental labels and declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling)

AS/NZS ISO 14004:2004
Environmental management systems – General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques

ISO/TR 14047:2003
Environmental management – Life cycle impact assessment – Examples of application of ISO 14042

AS/NZS ISO 19011:2003
Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing

ISO 14024:1999
Environmental labels and declarations – Type I environmental labelling – Principles and procedures

 

ISO/TS 14048:2002
Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Data documentation format

 

ISO 14025:2006
Environmental labels and declarations – Type III environmental declarations – Principles and procedures

Address environmental aspects in products and product Standards

 

Evaluate greenhouse gas performance

 

ISO Guide 64:2008
Guide for addressing environmental issues in product standards

ISO/TR 14049:2000
Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Examples of application of ISO 14041 to goal and scope definition and inventory analysis

ISO 14064-3:2006
Greenhouse gases – Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions

ISO 14063:2006
Environmental management – Environmental communication – Guidelines and examples Environmental Management 2009

 

 

ISO 14065:2007
Greenhouse gases – Requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies for use in accreditation or other forms of recognition

 

 

Manage greenhouse gases

 

 

ISO/TR 14062:2002
Environmental management – Integrating environmental aspects into product design and development

ISO 14064-1:2006
Greenhouse gases – Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals

 

 

 

ISO 14064-2:2006
Greenhouse gases – Part 2 : Specification with guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancements

 

 

Upcoming new Standards

An integral part of an organisation's EMS is the commitment to continual improvement. ISO/TC 207 is constantly improving its process to identify and respond to new standardisation needs. ISO/TC 207's success in continuing to work on relevant Standards is evidenced by the development of the following new Standards.

  • ISO 14045 will provide principles and requirements for eco-efficiency assessment. Eco-efficiency relates environmental performance to value created. The Standard will establish an internationally standardised methodological framework for eco-efficiency assessment.
  • ISO 14051 will provide guidelines for general principles and framework of material flow cost accounting (MFCA). MFCA is a management tool to promote effective resource use, mainly in manufacturing and distribution processes, to reduce the relative consumption of resources and material costs.
  • ISO 14067 on the carbon footprint of products will provide requirements for the quantification and communication of greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with products.
  • ISO 14069 will provide guidance for organisations to calculate the carbon footprint of their products, services and supply chain.
  • ISO 14005 will provide guidelines for the phased implementation of an EMS to help the take up of EMS by small and medium-sized enterprises. It will include the use of environmental performance evaluation.
  • ISO 14006 will provide guidelines on ecodesign.
  • ISO 14033 will provide guidelines and examples for compiling and communicating quantitative environmental information.
  • ISO 14066 will specify competency requirements for greenhouse gas validators and verifiers.
  • Finally, a new Standard ISO 14046 on water footprinting is in its initial stages of development.

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