EEF insight: Environmental Management Standard ISO14001 is changing

Posted on 11 Mar 2013 by The Manufacturer

Greg Roberts, EEF Consultant and the UK Expert on the ISO Technical Committee overseeing the revision of guidance to ISO14001 urges manufacturers to prepare now for revisions to the widely used standard for Environmental Management Systems.

The revised standard will not be published until early 2015, but manufacturers must start considering the potential changes sooner rather than later. Preparing now will save disruption, time and money in the long run.

As previously reported, the main changes to the standard are already known. The revision will follow the ISO high level structure for management system standards, which, in time, will harmonise all management systems including, for example, ISO9001.

The main changes include:

  • Incorporating the affect that wider business factors such as political and economic will have on the success of the Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
  • A greater emphasis on leadership
  • The development of a communication strategy
  • Consideration of the impact the environment has on the organisation rather than solely the converse

Knowing this, manufacturers can, even at this early stage, greatly benefit from considering the affect the changes will have on their business.

“There will be great kudos for those manufacturers and their environmental managers who are recertified against ISO14001:2015 first. Customers may use it to differentiate between leaders and laggards” – Gregg Roberts, EEF

Turning oil tankers

How long will it take to implement the changes in ISO14001:2015?

Starting implementation early not only ensures timely completion of the new standard but allows you to do it efficiently. It is better to transition the ISO14001 changes alongside the routine tweaks and alterations required to meet the principle of continual improvement, rather than making a specific change to meet the revised standard.

There is also a question of resource. By planning now companies can predict their resource requirements, including expert external assistance and ensure this is included in 2014 budgets. Large and small businesses may have different reasons to start early.

Given time large organisations, particularly those with numerous sites operating autonomous EMS, can develop a corporate response to the ISO14001 changes which can then be adapted locally. This efficient approach saves each site having to start from scratch. Smaller companies with less dedicated resource may need longer to implement the changes, and will greatly benefit from an early start.

The early bird….

There will be great kudos for those manufacturers and their environmental managers who are recertified against ISO14001:2015 first. Customers may use it to differentiate between leaders and laggards and there will be plenty of opportunity for media coverage – but only for those making the changes early.

Furthermore, ISO14001:2015 will provide added value to the business. The sooner the changes are made, the sooner the benefits can be realised.


ISO14001:2015 will help rectify common problems with EMS, specifically that they have limited senior level support, are marginalised from the core business strategy and are often the sole responsibility of an environment manager or similar.

ISO14001:2015 will require wider engagement with leaders who will have to take greater responsibility for the EMS. In order for this to be achieved, capacity at all levels needs to be built, including human and financial resources, knowledge and skills.

This takes time and careful planning. On a positive note starting early will help identify existing good practice, which will support the implementation of the changes.

Find out More and Get Involved

EEF has an established track record of helping organisations implement ISO14001.

If you want to prepare for the changes, attend the EEF Member Briefings on Health, Safety, Climate and Environment being held across the country in May.

For more information and to book your place please visit

If you would like to feed into the revision process, which is still ongoing contact [email protected]