What Is ISO 14000?

ISO 14000 is a set of rules and standards created to help companies reduce industrial waste and environmental damage. It’s a framework for better environmental impact management, but it’s not required. Companies can get ISO 14000 certified, but it’s an optional certification. The ISO 14000 series of standards was introduced in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and most recently revised in 2015 (ISO is not an acronym; it derives from the ancient Greek word ísos, meaning equal or equivalent.)

Key Takeaways

  • ISO 14000 is a set of rules and standards created to help companies address their environmental impact.
  • This certification is optional for corporations, rather than mandatory;
  • ISO 14000 is intended to be used to set and ultimately achieve environmentally-friendly business goals and objectives.
  • This type of certification can be used as a marketing tool for engaging environmentally conscious consumers and may help firms reach mandatory environmental regulations.

Understanding ISO 14000

ISO 14000 is part of a series of standards that address certain aspects of environmental regulations. It’s meant to be a step-by-step format for setting and then achieving environmentally-friendly objectives for business practices or products. The purpose is to help companies manage processes while minimizing environmental effects, whereas the ISO 9000 standards from 1987 were focused on the best management practices for quality assurance. The two can be implemented concurrently. 

ISO 14000 includes several standards that cover aspects of the managing practice’s inside facilities, the immediate environment around the facilities, and the life cycle of the actual product. This includes understanding the impact of the raw materials used within the product, as well as the impact of product disposal.  

The most notable standard is ISO 14001, which lays out the guidelines for putting an environmental management system (EMS) in place. Then there’s ISO 14004, which offers additional insight and specialized standards for implementing an EMS. 

Here are the key standards included in ISO 14000: 

  • ISO 14001: Specification of Environmental Management Systems
  • ISO 14004: Guideline Standard
  • ISO 14010 – ISO 14015: Environmental Auditing and Related Activities
  • ISO 14020 – ISO 14024: Environmental Labeling
  • ISO 14031 and ISO 14032: Environmental Performance Evaluation
  • ISO 14040 – ISO 14043: Life Cycle Assessment
  • ISO 14050: Terms and Definitions

ISO 14000 can ultimately help a company lower costs because it mandates that the firm seeking certification use its resources more efficiently and limit waste.

Benefits of ISO 14000 Certification 

ISO 14000 certification can be achieved by having an accredited auditor verify that all the requirements are met, or a company may self-declare. Obtaining the ISO 14000 certification can be considered a sign of a commitment to the environment, which can be used as a marketing tool for companies. It may also help companies meet certain environmental regulations. 

The other benefits include being able to sell products to companies that use ISO 14000–certified suppliers. Companies and customers may also pay more for products that are considered environmentally friendly. On the cost side, meeting the ISO 14000 standards can help reduce costs, as it encourages the efficient use of resources and limiting waste. This may lead to finding ways to recycle products or new uses for previously disposed of byproducts.