Raising standards

4th September 2014


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James Dennett

The first in the environmentalist's new series summarising environment and sustainability standards and guidance concentrates on the ISO 14000 series

Standards tend to improve organisational performance. The results of an ISO survey published earlier this year reveal the benefits of the 14001 standard for environment management systems (EMS). It found that organisations implementing 14001 realised significant value for their businesses.

It also helped them to meet their legal obligations, improve environmental performance, and enhance management commitment and employee engagement on the environment. There were almost 286,000 14001 certifications in 2012, and the popularity of the global EMS standard has soared since it was introduced in 1996.

The current 2004 version of 14001 is being revised, and a third edition is due next year. 14001 might be the most widely used environment and sustainability standard, but there are plenty of others to assist organisations in managing environment and sustainability issues.

Over the next few months, the environmentalist will summarise the standards and guidance that are now available. Part one in the series focuses on some of those related to ISO 14001.

Eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS)

A management instrument developed by the European commission for organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The requirements of 14001 are an integral part of EMAS, but the scheme differs from the current ISO standard in several ways, including a requirement to publish a verified public environmental statement.

14004: 2004 – general guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques.

The third version of EMAS (Regulation 1221/2009) was introduced on 1 January 2010. More than 4,500 organisations and about 8,150 sites are EMAS-registered across the EU.

14004 provides guidance on the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an EMS, as well as its coordination with other management systems. Whereas 14001 outlines the requirements for establishing an EMS, 14004 provides guidance to organisations that are implementing or are trying to improve their EMS. Work on a revised version of 14004 is also ongoing, running roughly six months behind the revision to 14001.

14005: 2010 – guidelines for the phased implementation of an EMS, including the use of environmental performance evaluation

Released in 2011, 14005 provides guidance for all organisations, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, on the phased development, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an EMS. It also includes advice on the integration and use of environmental performance evaluation techniques.

BS8555: 2003 – guide to the phased implementation of an EMS, including the use of environmental performance evaluation

A British standard providing guidance on the phased implementation of an EMS. It outlines an implementation process that can be undertaken in up to six separate phases and allows for phased acknowledgement of progress towards full EMS implementation. 8555 forms the basis of IEMA’s Acorn scheme, which provides a step-by-step approach to environment management. It can be used as a route towards 14001 and EMAS.

14006: 2011 – guidelines for incorporating ecodesign

14006 is designed to help organisations reduce the adverse environmental impact of their products and services. It provides guidance on how to incorporate ecodesign into any environmental, quality or similar management system.

14015: 2001 – environmental assessment of sites and organisations

The environmental assessment of sites and organisations aims to establish the relationship between the environmental aspects of an enterprise or location, and the environmental issues (risks/opportunities) and their ensuing business consequences (financial or other) as part of the preparations for a proposed business transaction. 14015 includes tools and references to information sources to assist in the identification of environmental issues, for example gas emissions or waste generation.

14020: 2000 – environmental labels and declarations (general principles)

  • 14020: 2000 revised the 1998 version. It consists of a series of standards – 14021, 14024 and 14025 – aimed at providing businesses with a globally recognised set of international benchmarks against which they can prepare their environmental labelling.
  • 14020 is an introduction to environmental labelling.
  • 14021: 1999 focuses on self-declared environmental claims or type II environmental labelling, which are claims made by businesses. A second edition of 14021 is being developed.
  • 14024: 1999 type I environmental labelling (principles and procedures) is concerned with so-called “classic” ecolabelling schemes, which award a mark or a logo based on fulfilling a set of criteria.
  • 14025: 2006 type III environmental declarations (principles and procedures) focuses on labels derived from a formal set of environmental data describing the environmental aspects of a product.

14031: 2013 – environmental performance evaluation (guidelines)

14031 provides guidance on the design and use of environmental performance evaluation (EPE) in an organisation. It can be used to support an organisation’s approach to EPE, including its commitments to legal compliance, the prevention of pollution and continual improvement. The 2013 version updated the original 1999 edition.

14033: 2012 – quantitative environmental evaluation (guidelines and examples)

14033 supports the application of standards and reports on environmental management, addressing issues related to defining, collecting, processing, interpreting and presenting quantitative environmental information. It provides guidelines on how to establish the accuracy, verifiability and reliability of quantitative data.

14040: 2006 – lifecycle assessment (principles and framework)

  • 14040 is part of a series of standards related to lifecycle assessment (LCA). It provides an overview of the practice, applications and limitations of LCA.
  • 14044: 2006 – LCA (requirements and guidelines) is designed for the preparation, conduct and critical review of lifecycle inventory analysis. It also provides guidance on the impact assessment phase of LCA and on the interpretation of LCA results, as well as the nature and quality of the data.
  • 14047: 2012 – provides examples of how to apply 14044 to impact assessment situations.
  • 14048: 2002 – details the LCA data documentation format.
  • 14049: 2012 – provides examples on how to apply 14044 to goal and scope definition and inventory analysis.

14045: 2012 – eco-efficiency assessment of product systems (principles, requirements and guidelines)

14045 covers the goal and scope definition of the eco-efficiency assessment; the environmental assessment; the product-system-value assessment; the quantification of eco-efficiency; interpretation (including quality assurance); reporting; and critical review of the eco-efficiency assessment.

14046: 2014 – water footprint (principles, requirements and guidance)

14046 specifies the principles, requirements and guidelines related to water footprint assessment of products, processes and organisations based on lifecycle assessment. Only air and soil emissions that affect water quality are included in the assessment.

14050: 2009 – environmental management (vocabulary)

14050 establishes a common vocabulary to ensure the effectiveness of communication, which is key for the implementation and operation of an EMS. It compiles the terms in all the standards in the 14000 series in one practical document. The 2009 edition of 14050 is the third version.

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