What is ISO14001?

The ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems[1]* (EMS) certification enables you to demonstrate your commitment to the environment, as well as continuously improving your corporate image. It is a comprehensive and effective management tool for assessing, monitoring and controlling the environmental pollution produced by a company or organisation. It is more thorough than ad-hoc approaches such as recycling paper, using low energy light bulbs and “switch off” campaigns, or installing low-flush toilets and taps, because it puts systems in place to ensure the organisation has a genuine and positive impact on the environment. A good system will incorporate an environmental policy, recycling of materials, waste minimisation, energy saving programmes and management of environmental risk. The ISO 14001:2004 standard provides guidance on how to manage the environmental aspects of your business activities more effectively, while taking into consideration environmental protection, pollution prevention and socio-economic needs.


The international recognition of the Environmental Management Systems standard ISO 14001:2004 is a real boost to any company’s reputation. What’s more, it assists you to ensure compliance with environmental legislation and reduces the risk of penalties and possible litigation. Demonstrating a real commitment to the environment can transform your corporate culture externally by opening up new business opportunities with environmentally aware customers or clients, while internally it can improve employee ethics and the workplace. Compliance with ISO 14001:2004 can also provide your company with a better use of energy and resources, and reduce costs over time. ISO14001 also encourages environmental responsibility through the supply chain, where supplier assessments are implemented as part of environmental risk assessment. Management and awareness of indirect environmental risks such as those experienced with non-complaint suppliers are an important aspect of ISO14001.

Resources for implementation

The time required to implement ISO14001 depends on many factors, including degree of top management commitment, availability of resources (mainly people and time freed up from other tasks), whether or not there is a serious, hard-and-fast deadline (i.e. customer mandate), organization size, type, configuration, compliance status when you start, extent to which the organization is ‘system oriented’ (i.e. is accustomed to operating on a planned basis) and already has some level of defined, documented processes that can be grandfathered into the ISO system and number and magnitude of environmental interactions / impacts.

Certification of ISO14001:2004

Certifying your Environmental Management System must be through a UKAS-registered organisation. This will ensure that your ISO 14001:2004 EMS demonstrates high levels of environmental compliance when bidding for contracts or expanding locally to accommodate new business. Many certification bodies offer a package that will include a Stage 1 audit (to check if you are ISO14001-ready), a Stage 2 (certification) audit and two further surveillance visits (annual audits). When you are awarded ISO14001, the certification is valid for three years and then you will have to go for full certification again.

[1] www.iso.org/iso