On-site ISO Consultancy services to drive your Environmental Management System

Drive Sustainable Development

Use the ISO 14001 standard to drive sustainable environmental performance and ensure compliance to legal requirements, including the prevention of pollution.

ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is the most recognised international standard for environmental management. The International Standard provides the ideal framework to manage environmental aspects that affect your business, and those aspects of your business which set you apart from the competition.

Onsite Consultancy

Our onsite ISO Consultancy services provide you with the tailored support you need to achieve your goals for ISO Certification. Benefit from our insights to build an environmental management system that delivers the outcomes you need. We bring clarity to ISO 14001 so that you develop your existing good practices into a highly effective environmental management system.

What is the ISO 14001 environmental management standard?

ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for environmental management. The purpose of the system is to enable organisations to:

‘Protect the environment and respond to changing environmental conditions in balance with socio-economic needs’ – ISO 14001:2015

Applying the 14001:2015 Standard to your management system, and using the principles of Life Cycle Assessment will enable you to:

ISO 14001 is written as a generic standard and provides a management framework for an organisation. Often, organisations believe that the standard sets specific criteria against any single environmental topic; for example, if an organisation identifies waste and recycling as a significant issue, the standard does not set criterial of performance on waste and recycling rates, but rather, requires the organisation to plan and manage how it:

Top environmental issues that organisations manage

The top environmental issues that organisations manage with their ISO 14001 systems are when determining its environmental aspects, the organisation can consider:

Managing these issues ensures that no pollution incident takes place that could result in environmental harm or legal prosecution. It could also lead to a review of processes that reduce the use of harmful substances. The organisation would manage the various types of releases either as part of the normal process or in case of an environmental accident or incident.

Managing raw materials and resources often leads to higher levels of efficiency, as less items are procured and improved stock management leads to reduced levels of wastage. In addition, workers and contractors become more efficient with stock and consumables as they understand the importance of not wasting items.

A by-product of greater efficiency is often a saving in space, which can reduce costs. However, some organisations will also focus on reducing the amount of land or space they use in operations in a focused effort and this housekeeping will lead to better environmental performance and conditions.

Whilst many organisations will carry out these activities as a matter of course, the level of governance provided by an ISO 14001 environmental management system will lead to systemic and organised improvement over time.

Interaction with other systems (e.g. Health and Safety and Business Continuity)

‘Environmental management’ is carried out to enhance an organisation’s environmental performance. ISO 14001 intends for an organisation ‘to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner that contributes to the environmental pillar of sustainability’.

Environmental management topics often overlap with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) systems, but organisations should ensure that processes and controls (e.g. safe systems of work) seek to eliminate harm to the environment as well as to human health. EMS and OHS systems work well in combination to manage emergency situations, thus ensuring organisations are protected and resilient in the event of accident or emergency.

Furthermore, an environmental management system will combine with a Business Continuity plan, so that in the event of a significant disruptive incident, your systems will not only protect the environment from harm, but also get your service delivery and operations up and running in the time frames you need.


Environmental management, as all the ISO management systems, has adopted the PDCA cycle as the basis of continual improvement. Organisations don’t have to be perfect in order to have an effective environmental management system, but the expectation of the ISO standard is that you can demonstrate the journey your organisation is taking. Over time, your capabilities and effectiveness will improve if you critique your performance in order to improve.

In following the plan-do-check-act process, the management team will begin to improve their planning processes and develop their skills of critical assessment in regard of environmental management. Part of this improvement will be to crystallise environmental management objectives at a strategic and an operational level.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act process is a critical element of the management system, and each time the cycle is followed through, the capabilities of the team will get better. Tangible improvement arising will include:

Applying these skills to your organisation will enhance your Environmental management performance and improve your brand reputation and skills.

Benefits of ISO 14001 Environmental management

ISO 14001, as with other ISO standards, also references the principles of ISO management. The table below sets out some examples of benefits against each principle:

Process Approach
  • Implementing Environmental management positively influences the resilience of organisational processes against pollution or environmental harm
  • Improvement in staff management and engagement
  • Gain competitive edge as competitors see you as a more positive partner and someone they want to align with
  • International recognition
  • Improved leadership discipline
Customer Focus
  • Organisations that implement Environmental management systems should focus on providing reassurance for their customers on environmental performance
  • Customer focus and improved satisfaction lead to increased revenues because market advantage is gained
  • Potential for increased sales to new customers as well as innovative ‘environmentally sensitive’ products and services
  • Improved confidence and engagement with customers and interested parties
Continuous Improvement
  • Continuous improvement of processes leads to reduction in downtime
  • Continuous improvements can be gained across the organisation such as effective internal operations, better engagement with staff, reduced waste and more profit
Engagement with People
  • Human resources benefits; with a more engaged and committed work force leading to a reduction in staff turnover
  • Engagement with the local community leading to greater trust and less risk of complaints
Relationship management
  • Benefits gained with respect to subcontractor relations – subcontractors to become certified, better relations with subcontractors, more stringent control over subcontractors
  • Improved relationships with authorities and other stakeholders
Evidence-based decision making
  • Decisions being more robust and focused on issues
  • Actions resulting from decisions being more effective
  • Clear decision-making processes

How do I get ISO 14001?

Many companies ask what they need to do to ‘get’ ISO 14001. The answer is to apply the requirements of the ISO 14001 Standard to their management systems. In many cases, a successful business will meet the requirements because they are successful.

Getting ISO 14001 is then a process of being certified. UKAS accredited Certification Bodies are the organisations that will carry out a series of audits of the environmental management system against the ISO Standard. As a result of the audit (if the environmental system meets the Standard) the Organisation is then awarded an ISO 14001 Certificate.

How long does it take to get an ISO 14001 certificate?

If you are beginning your journey to certification, it is easiest to consider three phases:

  1. Developing the Environmental management Systems
  2. Meeting the first phase of the ISO 14001 Audit Process
  3. Meeting the second phase of the ISO 14001 Audit Process

The process of developing an environmental management system that meets the ISO 14001 standard can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on the level of maturity of the organisation. In some cases, it is simply a case of introducing some new governance processes or developing documentation, whereas in others, an organisation will need to start from scratch.

The first phase of the ISO 14001 audit process is a ‘Stage 1’ Audit, which will look at the readiness of the system, and check against the required documentation. The benefit of the Stage 1 audit is that the organisation can test out its ideas or identify gaps without risking failing. The audit will result in a report that defines the amount of work needed to be complete before the Stage 2 audit is completed.

Usually, there is a gap between the Stage 1 and Stage 2 audits of 4 weeks to 6 months, which allows the organisation to gather more data and increase its capabilities.

What does ISO 14001 cost?

Like any product or service that an organisation buys, it is important to shop around Certification Bodies and ensure that you get a level of service you want, at a price that is acceptable. Just because a Certification Body awards a Quality certificate doesn’t make them infallible.

The UKAS accredited Certification Bodies are subjected to quality standards themselves and UKAS acts as Ombudsmen, which gives you assurance that any issues will be resolved appropriately.

Typically, direct audit costs are charged on a day-rate basis and the number of days will vary according to the size of the business. Companies up to 50 people can expect initial certification costs of approximately £5k, and ongoing costs of up to 2-3k per annum.

Spedan Ltd are Associate Consultants to the major ISO Certification Bodies and can help clarify your costs before you commit to one supplier.

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