“Committee Draft“ ISO CD 14001.2 was published in October 2013. During a comment period, the committee received around 5000 comments. The “Draft International Standard“ ISO/DIS, the next step in the revision process, was published this July. Again, the international community of ISO members has been given the opportunity to comment on this draft and submit change requests.
Publication of the new ISO 14001:2015 standard was released in September 2015.
Publication of the DIS has shed some light on the new requirements that will be included in the revised standard. What is certain is that there will be structural changes. One new feature, for example, will be the “High Level Structure“ (HLS). According to a decision passed by the ISO, the HLS will have to be applied to all management system standards (e.g. ISO 9001:2015) in the future, introducing a standardized structure and the use of core texts and common terms and core definitions.
As a matter of principle, the design of the environmental management system must take into account the external and internal issues and interactions relevant to the organization (context), the risks and opportunities arising therefrom and the needs and expectations of “interested parties“.
Another requirement emerging from the DIS is that the organization‘s established environmental policy will have to include the organization‘s specific commitment to protect the environment and improve environmental performance.
When determining the key environmental aspects the organization must, within the scope of its knowledge and opportunities, pay more attention to the product life cycle (keyword: "Life-Cycle Thinking"). For example in the phases from raw-material acquisition/generation to design and development, production, transport, use and disposal.
In the future, the organization will have to ensure that the environmental management system also covers all outsourced processes.
Overall, the use of performance indicators will play a greater role in the future, with functions including assessment of the degree of compliance with environmental objectives and illustration of improvements in environmental performance, for example.
Regarding the documentation of the environmental management system which covers records and documents, the DIS indicates that the future standard will also include mandatory requirements. However, in this area, the revised standard will permit more flexibility and self-determination by the organization.
It can be assumed that the basic positions of the ISO 14001:2014 known today will remain unchanged. However, we must expect certain changes and additions to the standard to be realized during the period now following in which comments can still be made. The publication of the FDIS will bring final clarity.
A three-year transition period, during which both the old and the new standard will apply in parallel, is likely to be defined for the introduction and application of the ISO 14001:2015 standard. Organizations with environmental management systems should take timely measures to adjust their environmental systems to the new standard. As far as we can see at present, existing EMS will not have to be revised completely.
Possible impacts on the certification procedure (for example, the question of how certification can be upgraded to the new standard and what costs and efforts will be involved in such an upgrade) will have to be agreed with the accreditation body at a later stage.