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ISO 14001 2015: elements of change

  1. Context of the organization
    • The context of the organisation is set as a preliminary requirement for defining the scope of the environmental management system and for planning, strengthening orientation towards the interested parties.
    • Before identifying its scope and before planning, the Organisation must know the context in which it operates. The previous edition of the standard considered this implicit in identifying environmental aspects and in general planning.
    • In order to define the scope for the environmental management system (EMS), the organisation must take internal and external issues into account that may affect its capacity to attain its environmental outcomes. These factors include:
      • The context in which the organisation operates.
      • The needs and expectations of interested parties.
  2. Leadership:
    • Emphasis on Top Management's key role: assigning specific roles and responsibilities, shows its commitment to ensure effective application of the environmental management system.
    • Top Management's commitment must also be proactive towards protecting the environment, in its multiple aspects, including:
      • Preventing negative impacts
      • Sustainable use of resources
      • Mitigating and adapting to climate changes
      • Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems.
    • The new standard no longer speaks about a Management Representative, but explicitly involves Top Management ("A person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level").
    • The EMS's outcomes are integrated with the organisation's strategic planning.
  3. Planning
    • When planning the environmental management system, the organisation must take risks and opportunities into consideration, in relation to:
      • Significant environmental aspects
      • Applicable legal requirements
      • Requirements related to other internal and external issues
      in order to ponder them in a precise manner, when defining environmental objectives.
    • The risk apporach must be explicated, and its assessment must be based on three sources:
      • Environmental aspects
      • Legal requirements
      • Context of the organisation.
  4. Support:
    • A new point that includes all the support requirements, that is: resources, competence , awareness, communication, and documented information.
    • Awareness is elevated to requirement status.
    • Documented information:
      • This is the real new element (common to all standard subject to HLS)
      • Replaces the terms "procedures" and "records".
      • Can be drawn up and kept in the form the organisation deems most adequate in relation to its needs, risks and opportunities.
      • Must not be interpreted as downgrading of the obligation - on the part of organisations - to develop, maintain, and record what is required in terms of the system.
  5. Operational activities:
    • The Life Cycle Perspective concept is introduced, an approach that calls for attention to be paid to safeguarding the environment in all phases of production:
      • Design and development
      • Identifying raw materials
      • Packaging and distribution
      • Reuse and recycling
      • Final disposal.
    • The Life Cycle Perspective places greater emphasis on the environmental requirements involved when procuring goods and services, and when controlling processes that are outsourced.
    • The Life Cycle Perspective translates into an explicit normative requirement for:
      • Controlling processes outsourced
      • Determining environmental requirements for procurement
      • Considering the environmental requirements for development, delivery and end-of-life treatment of the products / services.
      • Given the need to provide information on the potential environmental impacts during delivery and end-of-life treatment of products and services.
  6. Performance assessment:
    • More specific requirements have been added in relation to assessing environmental performance, including the need to establish criteria and indicators for analysing and assessing one's own environmental performance.
    • Some elements have been extended, connected with monitoring and communicating performance.
    • The organisation is requested more clearly to determine:
      • which aspects must be monitored and measured, in relation to specific factors
      • the indicators to be used to measure environmental performance
      • when the results of monitoring and measuring must be analysed and assessed.
  7. Improvement:
    • The concept of "continual improvement" associated with environmental performance, as well as improvements to the management system.
    • The environmental management system's outcomes is clearly explicated, that is, improvement of the organisation's environmental performance. The new edition of the standard makes this outcomes more concrete and effective.

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