ISO 14001 – the Environmental Management System is a process of continuous development and improvement based on the “plan-do-check-act” TQEM cycle which includes the 4 aspects series: (1) Environmental Policy Planning, (2) Implementation and Operation, (3) Checking and Corrective Action, and (4) Management Review.
The ISO 14001 standard is voluntary and provides a plan for establishing an official and methodical EMS. It helps an organization of any type and size to achieve its own objectives through clearly determining “what is going to be achieved”, “who and how it is going to do it”, “by when it is going to be achieved”, and “how progress is going to be monitored”.
The standard focuses on conformance with national environmental regulations in the country in which they exist. Therefore, it doesn’t specify requirements for environmental performance, such as limit values on effluents discharge or emissions, and others.
Organizations seeking ISO 14001 certification must ensure Top Management Commitment to meet the 3 pillars of the ISO 14000 which are (1) protecting the environment, (2) complying with relevant environmental legislation and regulations, and (3) making continuous efforts for environmental improvement.
In order to acquire the ISO 14001 certification, an independent certified Registrar (certifying body) conducts a complete audit of the organization’s EMS and its conformity with ISO 14001 standards. The issued ISO 14001 certificate is valid for three years only, where the organization has to apply for a new application for registration at the end of the three-year period. During the certification period, the organization is exposed to many follow-up audits performed by the Registrar, and in case it doesn’t succeed to meet the necessary criteria, the certification can be removed.