What is ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is a standard that describes how an organization of any size can put an effective environmental management system into place. These standards address how to use best practices when adopting an environmental management system. ISO 14001 is one of the subsets of ISO 14000 published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standards are updated periodically. The ISO 14001 standards were first introduced in 1996, with the latest version issued in 2015.


ISO 14001 is part of the ISO, a non-governmental, independent group of standards organizations from countries worldwide. Representatives from member organizations work together to develop voluntary and germane standards that support innovation and provide solutions to environmental challenges faced by organizations and citizens across the world. As of early 2018, ISO has published 22180 standards and related documents, applicable to almost every industry, from technology to agriculture.

The Impact of ISO 14001 Standards

ISO 14001 rules are a series of voluntary guidelines that are designed to decrease pollution and reduce industrial waste through the introduction of an environmental management system. The intent of the standards are to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and reduce costs to the organization. ISO 14001 standards state that an organization must define and document the scope of its environmental management system. Adopters of the standards must also determine risks that need to be addressed to ensure that the system can achieve its intended outcomes. Firms must take clear and well-defined action to adhere to their stated environmental management system, and make prompt adjustments when needed.

Although the standards are voluntary, firms adopting them can realize benefits outside of a more environmentally friendly operation. For example, firms that comply with these standards are also more likely to comply with or exceed governmentally-imposed environmental regulations. In this way, compliance with the ISO standards could help minimize the effect of regulatory fines. In addition, adoption of these standards indicates to consumers that a firm is environmentally conscious, which may improve their brand image among the general public and lead to higher demand for their products.