ISO 14001 Requirements: Step-by-Step Approach for Excellence

ISO 14001 Requirements

ISO 14001 joins ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 as one of the three most popular ISO standards out there. ISO 14001:2015, which is the latest version of this standard, is built on the same high-level structure as ISO 9001 and ISO 27001. This means that it comprises 10 clauses that cover the requirements for an organization to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS).

The primary purpose behind such standard is to provide a framework, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, with which a company can improve the environmental aspects surrounding the products, services and activities of that same company. Similarly to ISO 9001, the mindset of continual improvement must also be planted within the organization to meet all regulatory requirements and keep improving its performance and impact on the environment.

All this is done through the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). As a standard, the ISO 14001 requirements are based on the 10 clauses for an effective and efficient EMS

ISO 14001 has 3 main purposes, which are as follow:

  1. Achieve continual improvement in its environmental performance.
  2. Assurance to the company that it meets all applicable regulatory requirements.
  3. Communicating the company’s commitment to environmental improvement.

Plan-Do-Check-Act in ISO Standards

To truly understand how ISO 14001 is constructed, one has to become familiar with the PDCA management approach. PDCA is short for Plan, Do, Check, Act. This systems is comprised of a four-step cycle and organises the ten components of the ISO 14001 requirements into 4 different segments:

  • Plan: Identify an opportunity/threat and plan a change to make react to that factor.
  • Do: Perform any necessary changes by carrying out a small-scale study.
  • Check: Review the test, analyse the results, and identify what you’ve learned.
  • Act: Take action based on what you learned in the previous step. If the change did not work, go through the cycle again with a different plan. If you were successful, incorporate what you learned from the test into wider changes. Use what you learned to plan new improvements, beginning the cycle over again.


This part consists of nothing more than simply planning to take on opportunities. Here you have to take into consideration the dimensions of the project and come up with a plan which can be easily reviewed to make it better when it gets applied to the situation at hand. Do keep in mind the following:

  • What is the core problem we need to solve?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What resources do we have?
  • What is the best solution for fixing the problem with the available resources?
  • In what conditions will the plan be considered successful? What are the goals?


After coming up with a solid plan, it is then time to execute it. Taking action means that you have to apply everything that was being considered in the previous stage. Be warned, you will encounter multiple issues at this stage, some of which you may have forecasted, others which may be completely new and may take you by surprise.

At this stage, standardisation can really help your team apply the plan smoothly and deliver it with minimal hiccups.


This is likely to the most critical stage of the whole PDCA cycle. If you want to clarify your plan, avoid recurring mistakes, and continuously improve your operations, you need to pay enough attention to this phase.

This is the time to audit your plan’s execution and see if your initial plan actually worked. Moreover, your team will be able to identify problematic parts of the current process and eliminate them in the future. If something goes wrong during the process, you need to analyze it and find the root cause of the problems.


Previously, you planned and developed, carried out, and audited your plan. Now, you need to act. If everything seems perfect and your team managed to achieve the original goals, then you can proceed and apply your initial plan.

Why is PDCA cycle important to ISO?

The PDCA methodology is frequently employed to solve issues and develop high-quality process improvements. By implementing this model, firms hope to improve both their internal and external processes by removing any problems that may arise while carrying out the work.

This model’s cyclical structure enables teams to spot and fix problems early on and keep going until the intended result is achieved. As a result, efficiency is greatly improved and ineffective components are omitted to find the best solution.

Organisations can gather pertinent information using the PDCA method’s continuous approach before deciding whether to move forward with a plan or make modifications. This data-driven strategy offers a solid foundation for businesses to continuously improve their people, processes, products, and services.

Breaking ISO 14001 Requirements Clause by Clause

The Plan-Do-Check-Act management approach is used to organise the ten components of the ISO 14001 Requirements.

  • Plan: Clauses 1-6;
  • Do: Clauses 7-8;
  • Check: Clause 9;
  • Act: Clause 10.

Clause 1 | Scope

This highlights what the objective of the EMS is going to be. The intended outcomes should always focus on enhancing environmental performance and be in line with the environmental policy of the organisation. Enhancing environmental performance, meeting compliance requirements, and achieving environmental goals should all be the planned results.

Clause 2 | Normative References

This clause lists any other standards that are referenced within ISO 14001. This is extra as no normative references exist in ISO 14001, and as a clause, it was included to keep the numbering identical to previous editions.

Clause 3 | Terms and Definitions

This clause gives the definitions of the key terms that are utilized within the standard and the respective ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. These are divided into four groups:

  • Organisation & leadership
  • Planning
  • Support and operations
  • Performance evaluation and improvement

Clause 4 | Context of the Organization

This clause shines a light on the current environmental issues that are making an impact on the organization’s day-to-day operations. The extent of these significant issues depends greatly on the size of the company and the industry.

This section requires you to find the inner and external issues that might affect your business or interested parties, and any compliance regulations that you simply must meet. The information you collect from this evaluation of your business will allow you to grasp the context of your organisation in reference to your environmental impacts. Through that understanding, you may be able to develop a statement of the scope of your EMS which will define the aspects of your business that will be addressed by your management system.

 Clause 4.1 | Understanding the Organisation and Its Context

The standard talks about deciding the external and internal factors that are relevant to the work that is done by the organisation which could have a positive or negative impact on the company reaching its strategic goals about the environment. These should include environmental factors that might have an impact by the activities conducted by the organisation or factors that would affect the organisation.

The company is going to be needed to spot all relevant internal and external issues including conditions, characteristics or changing circumstances which will affect its EMS and then address those requiring further attention. External issues might include, for example, local, regional, and global environmental conditions, the views or attitudes of interested parties, or external cultural, social, political, legal, regulatory, financial, technical, and economic elements.

Internal issues can amongst others include the level of management commitment and support, the competitive context and the availability of resources, including knowledge, organisational processes, and systems, and also the nature of the organisation’s activities, products and services, its strategic direction, and corporate culture.

To meet this requirement a SWOT analysis can be done for the organisation to clearly map out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to the impact of the company on the environment. However, a formal process or documented information is not needed to satisfy the requirements of this sub-clause. Regardless of the approach adopted, the organisation must develop an understanding of its context, and guide its efforts to plan, implement, keep and continually improve its EMS.

  EXAMPLESOrganisational characteristicsEnvironmental conditions
Internal issuesLeadership support, resource availability, key skills technologies, etcOn site pollution, water quality, contaminated land and waste disposal.
External issuesLegal requirement, sector standards, corporate standards.Climate change, weather, floods, seismic events.

Clause 4.2 | Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Interested Parties

The organisation does not work in a vacuum, but rather interacts with various interested parties when rendering products or services to its clients.

“Stakeholder mapping” is a technique that examines the relative influence that various persons and groups have over a project, as well as the project’s impact over them. In this clause, the standard asks us to decide who are the people who have interest in how the company runs – would be affected by the operations of the company – it could be both positively and negatively.

We are then to decide what each of these interested parties are looking for from within our organisation. To meet this requirement, we will therefore need to decide who the interested parties are, what each of such parties expect from our organisation (requirements) and finally which of these requirements become the compliance obligations for our organisation. This can be documented in the environmental manual.

interested partyneeds & expectations

Clause 4.3 | Determining the Scope of the EMS

The scope of the management system is a requirement of all ISO standards. Once the organisation has determined and assessed its internal and external issues and found the needs and expectations of relevant interested parties, it should define the physical and organisational boundaries and applicability of the EMS.

The scope of the EMS may be the whole organisation or specific identified functions or sections of the organisation. Once the scope is defined, all activities, products, and services of the organisation within that scope need to be included in the EMS and ensure that it is clear to interested parties which parts of the organisation are covered.

To meet the requirement of this clause, the scope of the EMS will need to be defined. This can be defined within the environmental manual – the template supported the Environmental Manual on this website includes a part where we can write the scope of the EMS.

The method of keeping the scope is not prescribed by ISO 14001, therefore the organisation will need to decide the most suitable method, e.g., using a written description, inclusion on a site map, an organisational diagram, a web page, or posting a public statement of its conformity. When documenting its scope, the organisation should consider using an approach that finds the activities or processes involved, the products or services that ensue, and the location(s), where they occur.

Clause 4.4 | Environmental Management System

The whole standard is aimed at helping the company to set up, implement, keep and continually improve an environmental management system up to the requirements of this international standard. Therefore, by meeting the requirements of all other clauses, no further action will be needed to meet the requirements within this clause. The EMS should reflect the context of the organisation, be proportionate to its size and complexity and be properly resourced.

An EMS should be viewed as an organising framework that should be continually checked and periodically reviewed to supply effective direction for an organisation’s responses to changing internal and external issues. The EMS should be aligned and integrated with other business processes to ensure that environmental performance is not compromised in order that other business aims can be achieved.

Clause 5. | Leadership

Just like any other ISO standard, Clause 5 requires the company in question to outline all staff roles and their respective responsibilities within the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. This clause also gets the top management to start ensuring that the EMS is steadily being integrated into the organization’s core business processes.

Clause 5.1 | Leadership and Commitment

Leadership is defined in the High-Level Structure (HLS) as, “the person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level”. This clause encompasses a range of key activities which Top Management (TM) needs to show leadership of the management system rather than just prove the commitment to it. The standard is driving the oversight of the EMS to the highest level of management and making it a key part of the organisation and its core business processes and activities.

Examples of how top management demonstrate leadership and commitment include:

  • Top management takes part in and chairs meetings of the environmental committee;
  • The environmental policy’s creation process must be known by top management;
  • Encourage a culture of continuous improvement throughout the business;
  • Participation in internal audits
  • Allocating sufficient funds for environmental training and projects.
  • Reviewing Annual Reports
  • Respect and promote Environmental goals and communications
  • Provided that all other clauses are successfully implemented, and top management has duly supplied their input, no further actions are required by the organisation to meet this requirement

Clause 5.2 | Environmental Policy

The clause states that the Company shall set up their commitment through a proper and specific designed Environmental Policy.

The Environmental Policy shall supply a framework for the stipulation of environmental aims like prevention of pollution, climate change impact, sustainable use of resources, etc. It must include a commitment not only to fulfil its compliance obligations but also shows a continual improvement in terms of protection of the environment.

This Policy should be kept as documented information and be available to interested parties. The Policy should be a written document. This can be in either hard copy or soft copy. It is important to say the commitments to prevention of pollution, continual improvement of the EMS leading to improvements in overall environmental performance, and compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

The Environmental Objectives will be given the necessary resources that will need to be assigned to make the commitments in the policy happen. The policy will need to be reviewed and changed as the nature of the company’s environmental impacts vary over time and after substantial changes to the company or any major incident took place.

Communication and understanding must come from within all employees. The Organisation could use an abbreviated version of Policy, try grouping it to five key words or some brief sentences. This version could be posted on bulletin boards in each department and in the reverse part of the staff security passes or ID identifications. Companies can also use tests after the induction training to verify the employees understood the policy.

To meet the requirements of this clause, the Company should have a written version of the Policy and be communicated, or publish for internal and external use (e.g., website, notice board).

Clause 5.3 | Organisational Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities

In this clause, top management must ensure environmental relevant roles and responsibilities are assigned and communicate to all the organisations. Top management shall assign someone to be responsible and with the authority for:

  • Ensuring EMS is implemented conforming the requirements of ISO 14001:2015.
  • Reporting the environmental performance to top management.

The “Management Representative” role has been removed so that EMA “ownership” is not centred around one person. The TM can always delegate activities related to the EMA that are not its direct responsibility. However, someone must manage preserving the integrity of the EMA, while the revision or change process lasts.

Some of the roles and responsibilities of such people responsible for the EMS would be:

  • To meet the requirement of this clause, the company must add a person who will manage the EMS to your company’s Organisation chart. which can be within the environmental manual – the template supported the Environmental Manual on this website includes a part where we can explain the Organisation chart.
  • Other documents like letters of appointment, and process owners can be also considered as a proof of compliance.
DocumentPurposeInformation required
Letters of appointmentOne person assumes responsibility to ease establishment and maintenance of EMS by ISO 14001:2015You can explain the experience and background skills of the person appointed to justify its election with his/her Resume attached
Process ownersAppointed person who is given the responsibility and authority for managing a particular process. It will be the person at once accountable for creating, sustaining and improving a particular process, as well as being responsible for the outcomes of the processDescription about interactions with other processes. documentation and training requirements. Issue and keep any procedures and instructions Establishment targets and KPIs to check its process Audit its process. Find risks and opportunities with current process Investigate and propose process improvements

Clause 6. | Planning

This clause revolves around the identification of risks and opportunities that may leave some impact on an organization’s EMS. After identifying such factors, they must be dealt with by planning on how to mitigate them or gain some sort of advantage in the case of opportunities.

This is made easier by having the necessary objectives in place and planning how to achieve such targets through the EMS.

Clause 6.1 | Actions to Address Risk and Opportunities

Clause 6.1.1 | General

Risk refers to anything that might negatively affect the organisation. an opportunity is something that might positively affect the organisation. The organisation shall find their business risks and opportunities related to their environmental aspects, legal and other requirements. Basically, risks may turn problems and opportunities can become benefits. When planning the risks & opportunities relating to the EMS the following should be considered:

  • the organisation and its context including internal and external issues.
  • the requirements of the interested parties and compliance obligations
  • the scope of the EMS including environmental aspects.

The organisation shall include only the risks and opportunities that have a connection to the EMS. E.g., hazardous waste disposal risks have an obvious connection to the EMS; credit card fraud risks do not. Risk and opportunities can be considered and categorised in different tiers:

  • Strategic level
  • Operational level
  • Process level

All above must be considered to fulfil the following aspects:

  • the EMS achieves the planned results,
  • adverse effects are prevented or reduced,
  • desired effects are promoted encouraged,
  • a process of continual improvement is achieved.

Organisation shall decide potential emergency situations, including those that can have an environmental impact (8.2). The organisation must keep recorded information on the risks and opportunities that must be managed. Process(es) required in 6.1.1 and 6.1.4 to ensure they are conducted as intended. To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation should have performed a risk management exercise to define and prioritise the most important risks relating to its EMS.

Clause 6.1.2 | Environmental Aspects

The organisation will use a method to find environmental aspects of their operations and product life cycle and decide the significance of any related current or potential impacts. The organisation must find all the processes together with their inputs and outputs and their interaction with the environment where these activities are conducted, considering a life cycle perspective.

This means that the company needs to think of environmental aspects at each stage of the ‘life cycle’. It needs to be addressed carefully after considering all the stages where environmental aspects can be controlled or influenced. Examples of aspects associated during activities as:

  • Natural resources use (mining, water withdrawal)
  • Purchased raw materials
  • Manufacturing, services, other activities
  • By-products: air, water and waste emissions
  • Transportation of products
  • Use of products and services
  • Difficulties with end-of-life recycling and disposal

The organisation can choose those stages in the life cycle over which it has the greatest control or influence, so they are able to reduce resource use and minimise pollution or waste. After the assessment, all the considered Significant environmental aspects and impacts must be documented and the criteria for addressing and reducing them must be defined.

A beginning survey of location data and pattern information from yearly running costs and the amounts of energy utilised, water used, the waste delivered, and the crude materials used will help you to plan a list of environmental aspects for your company. Both threats and opportunities can result from the environmental aspects analysis if they produce negative or positive impact, respectively.

To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation should have in place a document called Criteria for Evaluation of Significant Environmental Aspects and Significant Environmental Aspects. Other documents non-mandatory but especially useful could be the Identification and evaluation of Direct, Indirect and Potential environmental aspects and risk where it is explained the Strategic and emergency Plans to minimise their impact.

Clause 6.1.3 | Compliance Obligations

Compliance obligations are “legal and other requirements”. These can either may be obligatory (for example taxes), or optional (for example codes of practice/conduct, international standards etc.). Once an organisation agrees to embrace an initiative, voluntary activities turn into compliance duties. The standard asks the organisation to:

  • Have identified all the applicable obligations related to environmental aspects which encompass both legal obligations and voluntarily made promises and keep this updated regularly.
  • Ascertain the opportunities and risks related to compliance requirements. This might be the severity of the sanctions for non-compliance, the rewards received for keeping promises, or the risks involved in the EMS not keeping compliance.

Example of legal obligations are detailed in following table

Environmental AspectCompliance ObligationRisksOpportunities
Use of f-gases in air conditioning unitsRegulation (EU) No 517/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gasesAnnual sustainability and corporate responsibility reportingCompliance with emission limitsRestrict hazardous substances in specifications
Use of f-gases in air conditioning unitsRegulation (EU) No 517/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gasesParticipation in government schemes of promoting the use of non f gasesTime and resourcesBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Disposal of waste batteriesDirective 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulatorsAdopt a community environmental recycling projectTime and resourcesPositive publicity
Generation of wasteDirective 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on wasteAgreement to meet a packaging reduction target by 10% in 1 year.Licence/permit compliance and reportingIncreased revenue from trash recovery and recycling methods
Generation of wasteDirective 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on wasteReduce the amounts of solid waste sent to landfill by 25% in two years.Time and resourcesIncreased revenue. Benefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Waste Management (Packaging and Packaging Waste) RegulationsDirective 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste of the European Parliament and Council of 20 December 1994Agreement to be member of an authorised packaging waste recovery schemeLicence/permit compliance and reporting Time and resourcesBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Energy efficiencyDirective (EU) 2018/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiencyAgreement to meet a consumption reduction target of 10% in 2 years.FinancialIncreased revenue from better efficiency
Energy efficiencyDirective (EU) 2018/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiencyDevelop and implement use of alternatives greener sources of energyFinancial and production issuesIncreased revenue. Benefits from bonus, government aids, etc.
Raw materialCommunication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – The raw materials initiativePromote the efficient use and optimization of raw materials used 10% less in 3 years.Financial and production issue Time and resourcesIncreased revenue from better efficiency
Raw materialCommunication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – The raw materials initiativeDevelop and implement alternatives for the rational use of raw materials.Financial and production issues Time and resourcesIncreased revenue from better efficiency
VOCs emissionsCouncil Directive 1999/13/EC of 11 March 1999 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installationsDevelop and implement VOC abatement technologiesFinancial and production issues Time and resourcesRestrict hazardous substances in specifications
VOCs emissionsCouncil Directive 1999/13/EC of 11 March 1999 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installationsAgreement to meet an emission reduction target of 10% in 2 yearsLicence/permit compliance and reportingBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Ambient Air Quality RegulationsDirective 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for EuropeAnnual sustainability and corporate responsibility reportingLicence/permit compliance and reportingBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the air from Medium Combustion Plants RegulationsDirective (EU) 2015/2193 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plantsUse cleaner fuelsLicence/permit compliance and reportingBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity
Industrial Emissions (Framework) RegulationsDirective 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)Treat and reuse wastewater in the processFinancial and production issues Time and resourcesIncreased revenue from better efficiency Positive publicity
Sewage Discharge Control RegulationsCouncil Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatmentuse non-toxic household cleanersLicence/permit compliance and reportingBenefits from bonus, government aids, etc. Positive publicity

Make sure that all these obligations are considered when planning the implementation of the EMS with the aim of continuous improvement. The standard requires compliance obligations to be documented, reviewed and updated for adequacy, both for new regulations and updated regulation. To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation must include all applicable Regulations in the Environmental manual.

For each requirement, the compliance obligations register has information on, but is not limited to:

  • Environmental requirements and expectations of interested parties
  • Name and details of the corresponding legislative requirement
  • Description of how the legal requirement applies and whether relevant licences or approvals are needed
  • The related risks, opportunities and mitigation actions
  • The title and summary of supporting papers proving compliance
  • How compliance is verified
Clause 6.1.4 | Planning action

This clause requires the organisation to address its significant aspects, compliance obligations and risks and opportunities. The standard requires a planned approach with respect to the actions that arise from earlier subclause 6 with the environmental management actions being integrated into other processes that exist within the business.

The activities arranged must incorporate the foundation of environmental targets, improving existing controls, e.g., procurement, finance or design departments, establishing or expanding monitoring regimes and methods or include the tasks in a new EMS-specific procedure, such as new operational controls (Clause 8.1) or new emergency preparedness procedures (Clause 8.2).Therefore, by meeting the requirements of all other clauses, no further action will be needed to meet the requirements within this clause.


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Clause 6.2 | Environmental Objectives and Planning to Achieve Them

Clause 6.2.1 | Environmental Objectives

This clause requires the organisation to set up environmental aims and plans, ensuring that these are clear, measurable, checked, communicated, updated, and resourced. Environmental aims can apply to an entire organisation, can be site-specific, or can be specific to individual activities. During the planning process, top management will set the environmental aims after analysing the risk and opportunities, with the aim of obtaining compliance, improvement, and effective risk management.

Objectives will need to be by the Environmental Policy. Documented information needs to be kept in relation to aims and there will need to be evidence about monitoring of achievement. The different aims shall be considered to mainly prevent environmental pollution to air, water, soil and noise, reduce energy consumption, improve resource usage, improve waste management and production… amongst others.

Setting up “SMART objectives”


  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Who is involved?
  • When do I need to do it?
  • How can we get it?
  • Why is the goal important?


    • How will I know my goal is achieved?
    • How will I measure my progress?
    • Are the parameters accessible?
    • Have baselines been set up?
    • What units of measurement will you use?
    • Will you normalise the data? (Compared to production, time, income, etc)
    • Where can you find this data?
    • Human Resources – training records
    • Purchasing – cost of raw materials and contractors’ person-hours.
    • Maintenance – preventative and repairs
    • Accounting – Actual expenses, settled invoices, and utility bills
    • Compliance Officer- regulatory requirements
    • Production – scrap rates


  • Is the goal reasonable to complete in the time distributed?
  • If they seem too large, communicate smaller steps towards a larger goal to keep interest and celebrate accomplishment at each step.


  • Does this goal match your company’s philosophy, mission statement, policy?
  • Does this goal fit in your corporate culture?
  • Does it improve efficiency, save money or time, and improve relationships with the community?


  • How long should it take to conduct the goal?
  • Set deadlines
  • Make sure they are realistic and flexible
  • Set how to follow up

Examples of topics for aims and commitments that support the protection of the environment may include:

  • Sustainable resource use
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Protection of biodiversity and ecosystem
  • Addressing other relevant environmental issues

Further details of how to set aim with a specific of a target and an environmental performance indicator:

1. Aim: decrease energy use in industrial processes

2. Target: achieve 10 % reduction of energy usage by 2023

3. KPI: amount electricity used per production unit (kilowatt/unit)

# Objective Target KPI
1 Reduce energy needed in manufacturing processes achieve 10 % reduction of electricity usage by 2023 quantity of electricity per production unit (kilowatt/unit)
2 Reduce energy needed in manufacturing processes achieve 15 % reduction of natural gas usage by 2023 quantity of natural gas per production unit (m3/unit)
3 Reduce water consumption achieve 10 % reduction of water usage by 2023 quantity of water used per production unit (litres/unit)
4 Reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from manufacturing operations achieve 15 % reduction of energy usage by 2024 quantity of sulphur dioxide per production unit (ppm/unit)
5 Reduce the amounts of solid waste sent to landfill achieve 25% reduction by 2023 quantity of solid waste (kg/year)
6 Reduce GHG emissions from the company Achieve a reduction in flaring events of methane of 25% by 2024 quantity of CO2 equivalent per year (CO2e/year)
7 Reduce usage of hazardous raw materials Reduce use of high-VOC paints by 25% quantity of paints (kg/year)
8 Improve employee awareness EMS Train 100% employees per year employees trained by year (No/year)
9 Reduce hazardous waste generated Recycle aerosol cans by 25% by 2023 quantity of cans recycles (kg/year)
10 Reduce hazardous wastewater generated Reduce hazardous wastewater by 50% by 2025 quantity of wastewater generated per production unit (litres/unit)
11 Cut noise pollution Reduce noise pollution by 30% in 2025 dbs max/day
12 Maintain breach of compliance environmental regulation at 0 keep breaches to 0 Number of breaches/years
13 Maintain complaints from stakeholders at 0 keep complaints to 0 Number of complaints/years
14 Maintain Nonconformities from audits at 2 maxima keep NC from audits to 2 Number of NC/year or audit
15 Inspections by managers on site Keep inspections record at 2 per month/manager Number of inspections/manager/years

Organisations need to set their environmental aims for relevant functions, levels and processes within its operations. The organisation must decide which roles, levels, and procedures are important. Once again, it is essential that written records of this procedure and its results be preserved.

To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation should have in place a document called Environmental Objectives and Plans for Achieving Them. The environmental goals and strategies for conducting them, including roles, materials, due dates, and activities for monitoring.

Clause 6.2.2 | Planning actions to achieve environmental objectives

The organisation must undertake planning to decide how its environmental aims will be achieved. This planning includes:

  • Deciding the work required for the organisation to realise its environmental aims.
  • The resources necessary to undertake this work.
  • Who will oversee seeing that the job is completed.
  • When will the project be finished?

Organisations are needed to set up and keep one or more management improvement programmes for achieving their environmental aims. Professionally designed and implemented, management programmes should achieve the environmental aims and, so, improve your organisation’s performance.The management programme must:

  • Address each environmental aim and target
  • Appoint the personnel responsible for achieving targets at each relevant function/level of the organisation
  • Describe an action plan outlining how each goal will be conducted.
  • Set deadlines or a plan for completing each goal.

No further action is needed to meet this requirement, provided that the requirements of all other clauses are being met

Clause 7 | Support

The success of the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of the EMS will be directly determined by the number and quality of the resources contributed to such an objective, as well as the relationship between them.

Clause 7 is the largest of the ISO 14001 requirements, it covers many distinct aspects of the EMS. Under clause 7, there are five sub-clauses that will be explained below.

Clause 7.1. | Resources

In this subclause, ISO 14001 focuses on the importance of having suitable and sufficient resources to make the EMS practical. These resources are needed to help the organisation achieve its environmental aims.To find adequate resources for the EMS, it will be necessary to follow the next steps:

  1. Finding needs and expectations;
  2. Collecting data to create a budget that addresses the needs, and
  3. Tracking costs often to ensure that resources in place are enough and reflect current needs.

All the personnel who have been assigned with any responsibility related to EMS, shall have all the adequate resources available. Top management must ensure this is achieved and kept. Examples of Resources:

  • Human Resources
      • Special Skilled Workers
      • Appointed persons
      • Training and developmental
      • Finance
  • Organisational
      • Internal or external workforce
      • Raw materials supply chain control
      • Leadership and mentorship
      • Collaborations and internships programs
      • Specialised and dedicated departments
  • Natural Resources
      • Water, electricity, gas (for heating)
      • Renewable energy sources
  • Infrastructure Resources
      • Suitable and ergonomic workplaces
      • Handling of materials equipment
      • Telecommunications Networks
      • Electrical and plumbing Systems
      • Machinery and equipment
      • Containment for hazardous materials.
      • Company vehicles for staff with duties offsite
  • Technology Resources
      • Alarm systems, process monitoring equipment (DCS)
      • PC’s, laptops
      • Phones, mobile phones, faxes, tablets
      • Closed-circuit television (CCTV)
      • Appropriate electrical and manual tools
      • Printers, Scanners
  • Financial Resources
      • Petty cash
      • Bank Loans
      • Shares
      • Creditors
      • Stocks

To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation should have found the resources needed, analysed the alternatives and proposed the final solution to run the EMS adequately.

Clause 7.2 | Competence

In this subclause, the standard requires that personnel doing the work under the organisation’s control are competent to undertake the task. The company needs to develop an approach to judge the competence of employees to conduct their assigned tasks relating to the EMS. This can be achieved through setting up minimum levels of education and experience for specific positions during the recruitment of a new employee, or specific training, or the use of external contractors.

This sub clause requires the organisation to train the employees with the proper knowledge and skills to achieve environmental aims. After implementing the training needs, the organisation shall check the effectiveness of them to ensure that employees doing work that may have a significant impact on the environment are competent. To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation shall have a training plan with records of the training performed. A job description document with the requirement profiles shall be kept as per following details:

Requirement profiles Define and set up the needed skills and experience on each of the management roles related to EMS Details on requirements needed related to experience and studies needed for each position related to EMS.

Examples of Job-specific training related to EMS includes training on:

    • Explain the significant environmental aspects associated with specific job tasks;
    • Establish environmental aims and targets and operational control involved with specific job tasks;
    • Explain the specific roles and responsibilities for job tasks related to environmental issues;
    • Establish operational procedures and
    • Define and explain the emergency preparedness and response requirements.

Clause 7.3 | Awareness

The intent of this sub clause is to ensure that employees at all levels of the organisation understand the environmental policy, its contents, liabilities, and interested parties. This includes the employees’ responsibilities towards the EMS, how their performance may affect it as well as the consequences of nonconformance related to job activities effects on the environment. We can say that it is everyone’s job to protect the Environment.

Examples of Awareness Training:

  • Explain how important it is for the organisation that everyone understands the policy, aims and requirements of the EMS.
  • What Significant aspects and potential environmental impacts drive Company Priorities, Objectives and Programs.
  • Explain everyone roles and responsibilities to achieve conformance with the policies and the EMS procedures even related to emergency preparedness and response requirements.
  • The potential consequences of breach from specified operating procedures.

To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation shall have a training plan with records of the training performed (same as earlier sub clause).

Clause 7.4 | Communication

Clause 7.4.1 | General

The clause requires the organisation to have in place a system of communication that ensures that those within the organisation are kept informed about the EMS and environmental issues associated with the organisation’s operations and that communication from external interested parties is received and managed according to the established process.The company should consider its compliance obligations and the quality (reliability and consistency) of the communicated information.

Another document non-mandatory but will help the organisation to achieve compliance in this clause is the Stakeholder engagement and communication plans. By engaging stakeholders on sustainability concerns, for example, the Organisation may gain a better understanding of the market environment, improve their reputation, create trust and long-term collaborative partnerships, and better analyse and mitigate business hazards and uncertainties.

Stakeholder Influence Engagement Level
Energy Agencies High Engagement levels can be checked by developing a set of indicators which will include: Number and Type of Communications and Issues discussed;Frequency of communications;Type, subject and number of grievances;Sources of complaints;Average time taken to resolve and close grievances;Number of presentations and frequency on EHS and economic status of the company;Number and diversity of stakeholders involved per action;Comments on any disclosed documents/presentations;Level/degree of involvement for stakeholders;Partnerships with stakeholders; and Number of mass media articles/announcements.
Water government party High
Environmental Authority High
Local workers Medium
Vulnerable Community Medium
NGOs Low

Clause 7.4.2 | Internal communication

This sub clause requires that the organisation communicates information to various levels at specified intervals and frequencies. The frequency and way we communicate will be an essential part of achieving the continuous improvement process. Examples of topics about the EMS that could be communicated include:

  • Information on achieving EMS aims and targets
  • Incidents, accidents and near misses
  • Environmental aspects and impacts
  • Operational changes affecting safety and welfare
  • Introduction of new plant and equipment
  • Contractors and visitors to site
  • Information request from interested parties

Examples of effective communication media:

  • Verbal (i.e., meetings, briefing, etc.)
  • Formal memorandums, email
  • Intranet –  Company website
  • Newsletters
  • Posters
  • Suggestion box

The organisation should encourage the two-way flow of information between your employees and management. Feedback from employees is considered essential in the development of environment policies and procedures. The management should create effective channels of communication e.g., reporting in suggestion boxes, emails address treated with confidentiality, number phones, intranet, etc.

The important thing is that the information is gathered and well treated by the management, showing actions to resolve the problem (if possible but at least, study possible alternatives) and follow up to close them. Examples of methods of communication with employees could be periodic HSE meetings with representation of the different departments of the organisation. Using boards notice to announce news related to HSE. The implementation of near misses and incident reporting policies are essential.

Clause 7.4.3 | External Communication

The organisation needs to consider what information relevant to the EMS needs to be communicated considering its compliance obligations and other topics if they decide to. The process must ensure that everyone has received information and is responded to appropriately. The organisation should have a policy in place for handling grievances about communications about significant environmental topics. If the organisation decides not to go ahead with any such communications, it should track this decision and explain why.

Examples of external communication ways may include:

  • Performance annual reporting to be sent to external stakeholders
  • Open doors meetings for interested parties and focus groups
  • Regulations filings or audit findings are accessible
  • Policies and suggestions boxes published on the website

To meet the requirement of this clause, the company should have a documented procedure where define who, what, how and when documentation will be communicated and to whom. It shall include records of this communications as minutes of meeting or audits records.

Clause 7.5 | Documented Information

Clause 7.5.1 | General

The standard now expects the organisation to decide what they need to document under their own requirements. This is based on the ability to plan, run, and control the business and its processes effectively. It must include an overall aim to continually improve its environmental performance and its environmental management system your organisation to prove the effective operation of its EMS. It’s essential each organisation determines their own needs as well as ‘interested parties’ documentation needs.

Examples of documents can be:

  • Process maps, flowcharts,
  • Procedures,
  • Approved supplier lists,
  • EMS plans and manuals,
  • Strategic plans,
  • Forms.

Documented information can be in any format:

  • Paper
  • Electronic/computer disc
  • Photographs
  • Samples

Clause 7.5.2 | Creating and Updating

Suitable process for finding and approving the version of the document. The organisation should look to confirm:

  • Date when the documented information is created
  • When it is updated,
  • It is correctly recognized and characterised (e.g., title, date, author, reference number)
  • It must be in a readily format (e.g., language, software version, graphics)
  • On proper media (e.g., paper, electronic)
  • It is reviewed periodically and after required by a 3rd party.

Clause 7.5.3 | Control of Documented Information

The standard requires that the organisation must control the documented information considered important for the execution of the EMS. An adapt process must be implemented to define the controls and the flow needed to:

  • Approve
  • Review
  • Update
  • Find changes
  • Find revision status, and
  • Supply access

The document requires that all personnel understand what types of information should be controlled, and how this control should be exercised. There are applicable requirements for the control of documented information, particularly how:

  • It is available and suitable for use,
  • It is adequately protected,
  • It is distributed applicably, and
  • Access, retrieval, distribution use, storage, and preservation are controlled

The documented information process should define the scope, purpose, responsibilities and how it is going to be executed. To meet the requirement of this clause, the organisation must include all these documentation in the Environmental Manual.

Clause 8 | Operation

Clause 8 is the smallest but one of the most important clauses on the ISO 14001 standard. It lays the basis for how you will plan to control all the operations needed both to fulfil your environmental targets and to effectively prepare for and respond to natural incidents.

Clause 8.1 | Operational Planning and Control

The organisation must decide how to build and combine all the processes to ensure that total operational control of its environmental aspects is implemented. Always following their environmental policy statement with the aim to achieve their goals.

The methods defined to ensure operational control will be dependent on their activities, legal obligations, and significant operational controls. Therefore, the organisation must take in consideration all clauses explained before to build the proper methods of control of its operation in a safe and environment friendly manner and capable to ensuring consistent results.

The standard requires the identification of operations and activities that are associated with the action to address risk and opportunities and finds significant environmental aspects of the organisation in line with the environmental policy and its aims. In effect, the organisation is needed to control and verify all functions, activities, and processes that have or could have, if uncontrolled, a significant impact direct or indirect on the environment.

Processes can be controlled including engineering and administrative controls. The following hierarchy must be implemented:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Administrative

Examples of operational control procedures:

  • Waste management
  • Packaging waste
  • Contractors’ management
  • Noise management
  • COSHH procedure
  • Gowning procedure
  • PPE management
  • Spill control

Clause 8.2 | Emergency Preparedness and Response

The standard asks you to also analyse those emergency situations and probable future changes within the organisation. The Standard requires that three components be addressed by the organisation:

  • The organisation handles setting up, implementing, and keeping the processes required to prepare for and respond to potential emergency situations.
  • Examine and update the significance of learning from occurrences.
  • They must perform exercises and drills periodically to evaluate the planned response actions, where practical.

Steps to set up Emergency Plan and examples:

Step 1. Identification of potential accidents related to your circumstances and type of activity.

    • fire
    • chemical explosion
    • spillage or release of hazardous materials

Step 2: Prevention measures related to every type of accident

    • Regular testing and maintenance of fire extinguishers
    • Supplying free access for fire trucks
    • Training the staff
    • Supervising activities
    • Posting labels and warning signs

Step 3: Emergency plan to describe apart from the earlier points, the following items:

    • Establish key personal contact information
    • Find a safe location with the proper technical data and emergency equipment
    • Find and supply names of people trained in first aid and fire warden
    • Highlight any special instructions or actions

Step 4: Training and planned drills exercises (to check effectiveness).

  • To meet this requirement, the organisation shall create an Emergency preparedness and response Plan and keep evidence of reviews and tests of planned response actions (maintenance checks and drills report).The company must train your employees about preventive measures and the emergency plan, and they should include in the training plan all necessary background information.
  • To be sure that personnel will react according to the emergency plan the organisation has to perform periodic drills based on predefined scenarios.
  • Periodicity will depend on the risk but yearly would be enough.

Clause 9 | Performance Evaluation:

Clause 9 of ISO 14001:2015 is all about monitoring and assessing Organisation’s EMS to make sure it is efficient and supports ongoing improvement. The Organisation must think about the variables to be measured, the techniques to be used, and the timing of data analysis and reporting. Organisations should decide what data they need to assess environmental performance and efficacy.

Clause 9.1 | Monitoring, Measurement, Analysis and Evaluation

Clause 9.1.1 | General

After the EMS has been put into place, ISO 14001 requires ongoing monitoring and recurring evaluations to:

  • Decide whether the EMS is working as intended.
  • Get an impartial evaluation of how well the minimal requirements of the standard are satisfied.
  • Check to see whether all organisational, stakeholder, and legal criteria have been satisfied.
  • Make sure the EMS is relevant, proper, functional, and efficient.
  • Show that the planning was conducted effectively.
  • Evaluate whether the EMS needs improvement and find the areas that require correction.
  • Examine the underlying causes of environmental issues.

The Organisation may use these statistics to convince upper management of the benefit of the EMS. Your company should create tools to:

  • Observe important aspects of processes and actions that may have an impact on the environment or have repercussions for compliance.
  • Track performance (including the steps you take to achieve your goals and aims).
  • Calibration and upkeep of the monitoring apparatus.
  • Periodically assess your adherence to relevant laws and regulations through internal audits.

Clause 9.1.2 | Evaluation of Compliance

After deciding your compliance obligation, you must now assess your compliance. To decide whether you follow the legal requirements that are relevant to you as showed above, you must develop and conduct a process in this scenario. This procedure must incorporate:

  • Evaluation of compliance frequency
  • Analyse compliance and take proper action
  • Keep track of your compliance status

For your benefit, the use of your internal EMS auditors, and any potential legal compliance auditors who might need to see it, all this evaluation must be kept as written information. It is critical to stay up to date on legislative changes to manage your compliance and guarantee that the organisation is not only meeting current needs but will also be able to meet the company’s updated criteria for environmental compliance activities. The key to meeting legal duties for your business is to be aware of what is expected of you by the law and to make sure that you are taking the proper steps to do so.

Clause 9.2 | Internal Audit

Clause 9.2.1 | General

Internal audits have always been an important part of ISO 14001 in deciding the efficacy of the environmental management system.

Clause 9.2.2 | Internal Audit Program

An audit programme must be designed to guarantee that all processes are audited on a regular basis, with an emphasis on those that are most vital to the organisation. To ensure that internal audits are consistent and thorough, each audit should have a clear aim and scope. This will also aid in the choice of auditors to guarantee objectivity and impartiality. Auditors should have a working understanding of what is to be audited to produce the best findings, but management must act on audit outcomes.

To guarantee that the action made because of an audit is effective, follow-up actions should be conducted. For the EMS audit program to be effective, the Organisation should:

    • Develop audit procedures and protocols;
    • Establish a proper audit frequency;
    • Train your auditors; and,
    • Maintain audit records

A good corrective action system must be connected to the findings of your EMS audits. EMS audits are essential to EMS efficacy, even though they can be time-consuming.

Clause 9.3 | Management Review

ISO 14001 demands that the organisation’s top management assess the EMS at predetermined intervals to assure its continued applicability, sufficiency, and effectiveness. People with the proper information or ability and decision-making ability should both be included in the management review process. Adopt the management review schedule that will be most effective for your company

The ISO 14001:2015 standard outlines what is expected of an organisation in terms of management review as well as the input and output requirements that must be met to show the firm’s dedication to ongoing improvement. Management reviews should be documented. The management review should consider how changing conditions may affect the appropriateness, efficacy, or sufficiency of your EMS.

To meet the requirement of this clause, the management should be able to present the Management review document periodically (e.g., yearly), where they can be explained through Performance charts, KPI’s, aims planned vs achieved and actions plans related to these aims. Minutes of meeting can be viewed as commitment evidence.

Clause 10 |Improvement

Clause 10.1 | General

This clause requires companies to look for and assess possibilities for EMS improvement. The obligation for continuous improvement has been expanded to ensure that the efficacy and applicability of the EMS are considered considering improved environmental performance. There are many techniques that must be followed while managing remedial actions. Organisations must first respond to nonconformities and take proper action. They must also decide whether similar nonconformities now exist or could develop in the future.

Under this clause, organisations must find and create options for continual EMS improvement. It is vital to actively seek opportunities to improve procedures, product, or services, particularly in relation to the demands of prospective future users. Examples of the influencing internal factors includes:

  • Top management commitment to environmental management – setting up an environmental vision or business policy.
  • Employees are being fully engaged – “green” teams are being formed to address environmental issues.
  • Employees will be trained in the skills necessary to fulfil their environmental duties and conduct their environmental goals.
  • Green goods/process design entails creating manufacturing processes and products that have a low environmental effect.
  • Supplier management entails using environmental performance as one of the criteria for selecting a supplier.
  • Measurement – objective measures produced to assess the level of environmental performance.
  • Environmental information must meet four major criteria: timeliness, accessibility, accuracy, and relevance.

The following external elements influence EMS improvement by ISO 14001 requirements:

  • Thoughts and judgments of interested parties about environmental performance, as well as community complaints.
  • The competition’s stress
  • Consumer complaints and market demands
  • Environmental protection legislation requirements
  • The prospect of securing non-returnable financial aid or subsidies for EMS improvement
  • New legal restrictions that take effect
  • Administration unit requirements
  • Certifying bodies’ requirements

Clause 10.2 | Nonconformity and Corrective Action

Every EMS has its defects. According to the Standard, the organisation must design and keep systems for managing nonconformities and taking remedial action to reduce any consequences. The Organisation will discover faults with your system, especially in first stages, through audits, measurement, or other activities. EMS will also need to adapt as your organisation develops and changes. When system weaknesses are discovered, your company will require a strategy to guarantee that:

  • Nonconformities and other issues are explored.
  • The root reasons have been discovered;
  • Corrective measures are found and conducted; and
  • Corrective activities are documented and tracked.
  • If the Organisation approaches the process of fixing a nonconformity as you would any corrective action, they will have documentation to show the auditor that compliance has been achieved.
    It can be 2 types of nonconformities:

      • Major nonconformities (major deficiencies that substantially affect the EMS’s effectiveness)
      • Minor nonconformities (a minor fault that has no significant impact on the EMS’s efficiency)

Clause 10.3 | Continual Improvement

The concept “continuous improvement” refers to the necessity to systematically optimise various processes inside the EMS to deliver overall improvements. It is unrealistic to expect continuous improvement in every process within the EMS, thus continuous improvement is used to plan, check, and realise change in specific processes that have been selected for improvement. Only talk about the salient points within the standard – factors that companies will need to take into consideration when implementing the standard

Explanation Of All Documentation Needed + Create Templates

In this section, an overview of the importance of the documents needed for ISO 14001 is given:

  • Environmental Policy – a document that sets out the strategy of the company in terms of environmental goals which is also the foundation for setting up environmental objectives.
  • Environmental Manual- a document with the purpose of Describe environmental management system • Define responsibilities, authorities, and the interrelationships of the key operating management segments • Supply the direction for each of the functional activities • Supply controls that ensure the requirements will be met. The manual should be numbered in sections that relate directly to the applicable elements of the ISO 14000 standard.
  • Management review: a document reported periodically with the revision of the top management for the environmental performance and goals achieved.
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication plans. This document is a strategy developed by an organisation to better connect with its stakeholders and to assess their feedback about major projects on the company’s agenda.
  • SWOT: Document that is the internal analysis of the organisation and finds strength and weakness, and the external analyses helps to see opportunities and threats coming the way of business.
  • Criteria for Evaluation of Significant Environmental Aspects. document that shall explain the way of assessing the aspects. When deciding the environmental impact of each of the identified aspects consider:
      • Existing activities done to control.

      • Severity of the possible issue.

      • Frequency or probability of aspect to happen.

      • Impact reputation.

      • Financial implications of change.

      • How easy or hard is the change


ISO 14001:2015 assists a company in achieving the desired objectives of its environmental management system, which benefit the environment, the enterprise, and interested parties. The expected consequences of an environmental management system, in accordance with the organization’s environmental policy, are improved environmental performance, fulfillment of compliance duties, and attainment of environmental objectives.


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