Conformance to the ISO 14001 standard has become synonymous with “good environmental management” in contracts worldwide. The recognition of the standard has been achieved as an increasing number of organisations rely on its structure to systematise their actions, and trust in its name to promise the delivery of legally-compliant services. The updates published in 2015 introduced new requirements for the certified masses – this blog looks at two rather intangible new key terms that are difficult to evidence but are essential to success: “integration” and “lifecycles”.

Integration is a cornerstone of management systems, as without buy-in from both company leaders & management boards together with other employees, the system would be viewed as an “add-on”. Multiple stakeholders and champions will ensure its longevity and effectiveness. Integration’s inclusion has come at a great time, as millennials increase their numbers in the global workforce, and with this – a raised expectation of employers to be conscious of their business activities. However, proving that your organisation has ‘integrated’ ISO 14001 across the business and within its culture is a difficult task. There are 3 locations where integration is mentioned: leadership, performance, and management review. Clear guidance from this standard is to ensure that the EMS is not a stand-alone system.

Control and influence of the EMS in a lifecycle perspective is an interesting area as it is much more obvious how to evidence it in a company that makes products, in comparison to a company that delivers a service. Useful angles for these companies to take, are:

  • look at supplier spending power as ‘influential leverage’;
  • engage sales teams to ensure what is promised is delivered, and
  • work with the internal supply chain team to align the procurement and environmental policies and procedures.

Many other opportunities exist with the new updated standard. Integration and lifecycle are the two that I feel are critical to ensuring that an organisation achieves its goals when adopting a certified ISO 14001 system.