"The ISO 14000 environmental management series is a major step forward in corporate environmental management" Discuss with particular reference to the ISO 14001 EMS.

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“The ISO 14000 environmental management series is a major step forward in corporate environmental management” Discuss with particular reference to the ISO 14001 EMS


An environmental management system (EMS) is the system by which a:

                        ‘company controls the activities, products and processes that cause,

                        or could cause, environmental impacts and in doing so minimizes

the environmental impacts of its operations.’

From, the onset it was expected that registration under ISO 14001 would become an important business priority. It was felt that third party certification would be the vehicle to achieve future business success and a desirable corporate image.

Organisations are increasingly concerned with achieving sound environmental performance. Moreover, there are growing pressures from national and international sources, such as increasing legislation, financial penalties, environmental disasters and public awareness of sustainability. Thus there has been a growing realisation that all organisations have an impact on the environment and that these impacts need to be reduced.

ISO 14001 will be introduced as a specification standard and its components will be reviewed. The focus of this report will be to analyse whether ISO 14001 serves as a major step forward.  Case studies are used in order to identify the positive and negative aspects of ISO 14001.



The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) was established in 1947 and is a non-governmental organisation. The series provides a framework for organising the tasks essential for effective environmental management. 

ISO 14001 is a specification standard published in 1996, which states the requirements for establishing an EMS. Its aim is to support environmental protection and prevent pollution in harmony with socio-economic needs.The standard is similar to BS 7750, however, the wording is not as prescriptive as BS 7750 which allows for wider interpretation.

The standard is intended to be applicable to all types and sizes of organisation, from anywhere in the world. Prior to the ISO 14000 series, attempts at assessing environmental performance had been limited to environmental reviews or audits.  These attempts were insufficient assurances that performance will continuously meet legal and policy requirements. For such reviews to be efficient, they need to be conducted within a structured management system and integrated into general management activity.  Thus we can see the link between the introduction of ISO 14001 and the need for an effective EMS.


Although there are often concerns that establishing an EMS will lead to high costs, there are two main advantages to be had.  The first is that it is good for the planet. Global economic activity has increased dramatically and it is felt that present business practices are destroying life on earth and that the current level of consumption cannot go on.  To put this into perspective, 83 per cent of commercial energy used in the world comes from non-renewable energy sources.

Secondly, there are believed to be five benefits for your business.  The first is cost savings since you will be able to identify inefficiencies when conducting the environmental review.Secondly, a management programme enables you to monitor target compliance. Thirdly, an organisation may gain an enhanced public image and increased market opportunities by demonstrating their commitment to the environment.Fourthly, having an EMS could mean less supervision from environmental regulators and enhanced ability to attract investment.Lastly, it can encourage increased motivation from employees. 


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  • Environmental Policy

A policy must be drafted which sets out the intentions of the organisation in relation to the environment.  There must be a commitment to prevent pollution, continual improvement and compliance with relevant environmental legislation.Targets must be communicated to all employees.

  • Planning

Objectives and targets need to be set. Environmental aspects should be identified by means of an environmental review.  This review is important because it forms the foundation upon which the rest of the management system is built.The organisation must devise an environmental management programme which identifies time-frames and responsibility.

  • Implementation & Operation

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