ISO Show

#66 – What is ISO 14001?


If you’re wondering where to begin with strengthening your environmental credentials, a great way to do this is to implement ISO 14001. This is a world-leading standard for businesses on environmental management.

In the last episode, I shared with you what an environmental Management System (EMS) is. So, if you haven’t heard that yet, I’d recommend that you have a quick listen before listening to this one because it’s essential listening, it provides an overview of what an EMS is.

Now, I’m going to just provide a high-level overview of ISO 14001. But if you’d like to get all the resources on implementing ISO 14001, then the isology hub membership is the place to go. It has everything that you need, including video tutorials, downloads, workbooks, check sheets, and also a stack of training classes as well to help you to create your very own bespoke ISO 14001 compliant EMS. We’re super excited to be launching this game-changer in ISO standards. So, if you don’t want to miss out, go over to the membership site, which is to join the waitlist, and don’t forget to download our free ISO Standards Blueprint here, which provides you with all the information that you need on the key steps to plan, create, launch and get certified to an ISO standard.

Let’s dive into ISO 14001!

What you’ll learn:

  • The purpose of ISO 14001 and why it exists.
  • The structure of the standard (including the key clauses)
  • Key ISO 14001 principles
  • Key benefits of ISO 14001

Let’s start right back at the beginning…

Key purpose of ISO 14001

  • This standard is a specification. It’s a document that you can purchase online, which provides a framework for actually building an EMS
  • An EMS is to provide a framework to help support any organisation to improve its overall environmental performance and provide a sound basis for sustainable development initiatives.​
  • It’s designed to embrace continual improvement, and enhance operational performance, which is similar to any other ISO standard. So, if you’ve already got an ISO standard in place, the chances are that you’re in a really good position to integrate the elements of ISO 14001 because there are quite a lot of similarities.

The structure of ISO 14001

  • The first 3 clauses within the standard are actually auditable.
  • Clause 4 is all about understanding your organisation and its context.
  • Clause 5 is leadership commitment. This is all about leadership and commitment, roles, responsibilities and authorities.
  • Clause 6 is the planning stage, which is all about addressing actions to mitigate risks, and enhancing your opportunities as well.
  • Clause 7 is called support. This is actually around things like resources, both physical, processes, facilities, competence, and awareness.
  • Clause 8 is all about operations. So, these are your operational controls for reducing your environmental footprint, and also having controls in place for things like emergency preparedness, and how you respond to an environmental incident.
  • Clause 9 is performance evaluation. So, once you’ve got your operational controls in place, it’s really important that you evaluate the effectiveness of those controls.
  • Finally, clause 10 is the improvement clause that focuses on non-conformity, corrective action, and continual improvement​.

So, by just running through that briefly, you’ll probably be thinking, “oh yeah, well we’ve got that and yep we’ve got that too”…but it might just not cover environmental management. So, that’s where you need to make those tweaks and changes.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with ISO standards you might be thinking, “well that’s pretty comprehensive”. And yes, it is actually! It does provide you with a holistic framework for managing environmental performance.

Key principles of ISO 14001

Now, looking at the key principles then of ISO 14001…ultimately, it’s down to:

  • Protecting the environment by preventing or mitigating adverse environmental impacts​
  • Mitigating the potential adverse effect of environmental conditions on the organization​
  • Assisting the organisation in the fulfilment of compliance obligations​
  • Enhancing environmental performance​
  • Controlling and/or influencing product and services design, manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and disposal, using a life cycle perspective​

So, those are the fundamental principles of ISO 14001. If you’re focusing on achieving certification to this standard, then you really need to focus on clauses 4 to 10 of the standard. These are the elements that are implemented within your business and they are the areas that the independent third-party body will be looking at when it comes to your stage one and stage two assessment.

There’s a lot more advice and information on that over at, which provides a full list of the key and essential documents, what is desirable and provides examples of those using templates, guidance, and training.

So, to wrap up…

What are the benefits of ISO 14001?

  • Reduced costs due to less wastage​
  • Simplified and effective documentation​
  • Improved sales and marketing opportunities​
  • Improved communication and morale company-wide​
  • The acquisition of a symbol representing the internationally recognised environmental standard ISO 14001.​

If you’d like all the resources needed to implement ISO 14001 yourself or if you’d like to join one of our ISO 14001 six-month coaching programmes, we’ve got seven places available! So, head over to to find out more, and don’t forget to download your FREE ISO Standards Blueprint here

I look forward to catching up with you on the next episode, where I’m going to be sharing with you how to plan your ISO 14001 implementation project!

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