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Introduction to ISO 14001-Environmental management systems

ISO 14001 is a specific standard in the series for a management system. It incorporates a set of interrelated elements designed to minimize the impact on the environment by an organization.  ISO 14001 was originally issued in 1996 and later revised in 2004. The main purpose of the ISO 14001 is to address the identification, evaluation, and continual improvement of an organization’s activities, products or services that interact with the environment. It defines the implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

History of Development

ISO 14000 is a series of international standards that have been developed to incorporate environmental aspects into operations and product standards.  ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization, located in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO promotes the development and implementation of voluntary international standards.

The ISO 14000 series came up primarily as a result of the Uruguay round of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations and the Rio Summit on the Environment held in 1992.  Other environmental standards like the British Standards BS 7750, the Canadian Standards Association’s environmental management, auditing, eco-labelling and other standards, the European Union’s eco-management and audit regulations were available on the that time.  Many other countries such as USA, Germany and Japan have introduced eco-labelling programs. Initiative taken by these countries had triggered the concrete platform for creation of ISO 14001 standard.

After the speedy acceptance of ISO 9000 and the increase of environmental standards around the world, ISO identified the need for international environmental management standards. They formed the Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE) in 1991.

Environmental standards should promote a common approach to environmental management similar to quality management. By enhancing the organizations’ ability to attain and measure improvements in environmental performance is another need along with facilitating trade and removing trade barriers. ISO 14001 series complies with above requirements and helps the organization to attain their green goals.

Information compiled by: Mr. Ritu Paban Borah (M.Sc Environment Management, Technical Associate-FSI, Dehradun)


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