ISO 14004: Everything you need to know

ISO 14004 is a document that gives advice to businesses how to start or improve their own EMS. It is part of an overall management system that improves environmental performance.

ISO 14004 everything you need to know

ISO 14004 is a document that gives advice to businesses how to start or improve their own EMS.  It is part of an overall management system that improves environmental performance.

What is ISO 14004?

ISO 14004 is an environmental management system (EMS) document.  It is a standard designed to give practical help and guidance for those businesses wanting to start or improve an EMS.

What is an EMS?

An EMS is part of a business’s overall management system.  An EMS will include:

  • Structure
  • Planning
  • Environmental responsibilities
  • Procedures
  • Resource use

When a business has an EMS it is better able to deal with its environmental concerns.  This leads to improved environmental performance.

Different to ISO 14001:

ISO 14004 is different to 14001 in that none of the elements can be audited for certification.  ISO 14001 identifies specific elements that must be met for a third party registration organisation to certify.

What ISO 14004 focuses on, is a list of elements that should be considered when a business starts up or improves their EMS.

 

2003 revision:

ISO 14004 was first published in 1996.  However, by 2003 the document was no longer relevant.  It underwent a large revision.

Removal of the 5 principles:

The 5 principles that the old ISO 14004 focused around were:

  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Measurement and evaluation
  • Review and improvement

ISO 14004 would group all the elements that could help a business reduce their environmental impact into one of these principles.  The system is now based on the style for ISO 14001.  They are grouped into ‘plan’, ‘do’, ‘check’ and ‘act’.

 

Guidance on preventing pollution:

ISO 14004 gives a lot of practical advice for reducing pollution.  The main approach is through source reduction.  This is includes efficiently using resources and conserving as much as possible.  Improvements to products and technology can reduce resource consumption.

The document contains advice on how to re-use and recycle as much waste as possible (in house).  There are also tips on how to recycle by selling waste to people who can use it.

Benefits of ISO 14004:

Businesses will benefit in a number of ways.  For many the real benefit will be from cost savings.  ISO 14004 aims to help companies become more efficient.  By using fewer resources more efficiently, the cost of operation is lowered.

Other benefits include appearing as a good corporate citizen who is actively engaged in helping the environment.  It is a good marketing tool.

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