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The ISO 14000 series standards constitute the ‘family of standards’ related to “Environmental Management” and aim to support organisations / businesses in order to:

  • Minimise the way in which their operations (e.g. production processes, etc.) adversely affect the environment (cause negative impacts on the atmosphere, water or soil)
  • Comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other national or international requirements oriented towards environmental issues; and
  • To continuously improve with respect to the above two objectives.

ISO 14000 standards are similar to the ISO 9000 series of quality management systems, as they also refer to the process regarding how a service or product is provided/produced, without being specific to the particular service or product.

Based on common practice as regards the ISO 9000 system inspection process, Swiss Approval inspects and certifies companies and organisations to ISO 14001 in a similar way and in accordance with ISO 19011. Through a simultaneous inspection process, compliance can be successfully verified for both 9001 and 14001 management systems.

The international standard ISO 14001 sets out the criteria for the design and implementation of Environmental Management Systems (EMS). Without explicitly referring to specific national legal requirements regarding environmental performance, it sets out the framework that a company or organisation can follow to implement those measures and procedures necessary for an effective EMS. It can be applied by any company seeking to improve the efficiency of its resources and reduce its environmental impacts. Using ISO 14001 can automatically provide a secure overview of the company’s management processes and the operation of employees and external stakeholders, so that environmental performance can be measured, evaluated and improved.

ISO 14001 is one of the most widely used standards for management systems in use, and is therefore relevant to any organisation seeking both to continuously improve its efficiency and to ensure the sustainability principles that should underlie any modern business. Consequently, certification according to ISO 14001 is addressed to:

  • Single site companies up to large multinational companies
  • High risk companies with regard to environmental consequences, up to service providers, low operational risk and low environmental impact
  • The construction, manufacturing, industry
  • Service providers, including private and public sector administrative bodies (regions, local government, government agencies)
  • Product/equipment manufacturers and their suppliers.

The requirements of ISO 14001 are an integral part of the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The individual provisions and elements of EMAS are nevertheless more demanding, particularly in terms of improving environmental performance, legal compliance and reporting obligations.

In 2010, the latest EMAS Regulation (EMAS III) entered into force. The scheme is now applicable globally, and includes the key performance indicators and a number of further improvement actions.

The requirements of the management system, ISO 14001, are close to those of EMAS. Additional requirements for EMAS include:

  • Stricter requirements in terms of measuring and evaluating environmental performance against targets
  • State supervision by environmental inspectors
  • Active involvement of employees as a key requirement.  EMAS recognises that the active involvement of employees is a driving force and a prerequisite for continuous and successful environmental performance and improvements
  • Monitoring and comparing the performance of environmental indicators between different organisations over a multi-year timescale
  • Mandatory provision of information to the general public
  • Request for documentation from a public authority

Swiss Approval guarantees the provision of accredited certification services, through which companies are awarded a certificate – a “passport” for the international market, ensuring with accuracy and independence the compliance with the principles and rules governing the ISO 14001 standard.

EMAS certification is also possible through associated authorised certification bodies.