Steps to become ISO 14001 certified

Achieving balance between the environment, society, and the economy, is considered essential to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future. Sustainable development as a goal is achieved by balancing these three pillars.

Societal expectations for sustainable development, transparency, and accountability have evolved with increasingly stringent legislation, growing pressures on the environment from pollution, inefficient use of resources, improper waste management, degradation of ecosystems, and loss of biodiversity.

This has led organizations to adopt a systematic approach to environmental management by implementing environmental management systems with the aim of contributing to the three environmental pillars of sustainability.

ISO 14001 includes 10 sections and is based off of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. Out of the 10 sections, only 7 of them contain auditable requirements. The basic concept is to make a plan, resource the plan, execute the plan, evaluate the results, and take appropriate action based upon the evaluation. If this cycle is consistently followed, the natural results will be excellent quality products, extraordinary customer service, and a healthy quality management system.

How the PDCA cycle is represented in the standard:

  • Sections 4, 5, and 6 - The "planning" sections
  • Sections 7 and 8 - The "doing" sections
  • Section 9 - The "checking" section
  • Section 10 - The "acting" section

You can also break the standard down into the following 4 levels: 

  • Level 1 - Environmental Manual, Policy, Objectives, and EMS Processes (Why we do what we do)
  • Level 2 - EMS Procedures (When we do what we do and who does it)
  • Level 3 - EMS Work Instructions, Forms, Matrices (How we do what we do)
  • Level 4 - EMS Records (Proof that we did what we said we would do)

Examples of ISO 14001 elements include

  • Document & Record Control
  • Maintaining an Environmental Policy & Objectives
  • Internal / External Communication Processes
  • Emergency Preparedness & Response
  • Internal Audit & Management Review
  • Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities
  • Determining Environmental Aspects
  • Compliance Obligations
  • Evaluation of Compliance 
  • Nonconformity & Corrective Action