6 mins read

Managing Environmental Compliance With ISO 14001

With environmental compliance increasingly under scrutiny by regulators and consumers, organisations have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to control and manage environmental risks.

This is what ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS) is designed to address. In fact, the purpose of ISO 14001 is to help organisations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, gaining a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders.

Let’s take a look at how ISO 14001 does this and how it might look for your organisation.

ISO 14001: Consistent with the organisation’s environmental policy, the intended outcomes of an EMS system include: enhancement of environmental performance; fulfilment of compliance obligations; achieve of environmental objectives.

An Overview of ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

To give a quick overview, ISO 14001 is an international standard, prescribing a high-level, structured approach to environmental protection. When fully implemented in an organisation – through leadership, planning, support, controls, monitoring and continuos improvement – ISO 14001 EMS is designed to improve your ability to manage environmental responsibilities in a systematic approach, providing value for the environment, your organisation and stakeholders. This blog will focus on how EMS enhances compliance performance.

How ISO 14001 Addresses Environmental Compliance

The ISO 14001 requirements provide a framework and guidelines for creating your EMS so you don’t miss the important elements needed for a successful EMS. The benefit of ISO 14001 is that many of it’s requirements are connected so the flow can be tailored to your particular organisation. This makes for an effective managaement system that is not just a list of requirements. Below is an example of a comprehensive flow which connects most of the requirements related to compliance performance.
Example of a comprehensive flow that connects most of the requirements related to compliance performance

It starts with the Interested Parties. These are other entities that have an interest in what your organisation does and expects certain things of it. These expectations may take the form of regulations, if the interested party is a governmental agency, or specific levels of performance if the interested party is the owner or a customer. The expectations that your organisation commits or must adhere to become Compliance Obligations. As a result of listening to your Interested Parties, your organisation might also identify some Risk or Opportunities that should be addressed. Storage of waste drums outside might be an identified risk. The Compliance Obligations and Risks and Opportunities are acted on through Planning Action. That’s when your organisation will decide what resources, training, controls, and monitoring are called for.

The outcome of the monitoring and subsequent analysis and evaluation will be an understanding of your organisation’s degree of compliance.

This information might be shared internally with employees or upper management, will be shared through periodic reporting to the relevant environmental agencies and possibly through voluntary reporting such as a sustainability report. Finally, the degree to which this whole process is working will be assessed by a Compliance Evaluation, which usually takes the form of an audit.


Real-World Application

Let’s look at a real-world example – one of your major customers is very active in sustainability and has a new supply chain program. They are assessing their suppliers, including your organisation, on their EHS performance. This assessment includes questionnaires, audits, and annual reporting. One of the EHS requirements relates to your organisation’s compliance.  Is ISO 14001 capable of assisting with this challenge?  Certainly.  This is probably how it would unfold:

  • You’ve recognised your major customer as an Interested Party that expects its suppliers to be in compliance.
  • You’ve had a history of hazardous waste fines and subpar practices that have never really been resolved. This risk has now escalated because its no longer strictly between you and the agency. Management commitment now exists to support actions to improve the program.
  • You create an action plan to refresh the hazardous waste program to ensure proper empty drums are available, labels are available and completed properly, storage locations are well maintained and that the waste does not accumulate prior to being picked up by an approved provider.
  • You then roll out these updated controls and make sure everyone is trained, there is ownership and accountability.
  • You will monitor the program through inspections, an annual compliance audit, and tracking spreadsheets and report on your performance to management.
  • You are confident that when you communicate your new reports to the customer will no longer include NOVs.

Certification of your ISO 14001 environmental management system can assist with implementing, maintaining, and improving your compliance efforts and make them more credible to interested parties.  SAI Global’s auditors will conduct annual independent audits of your EMS to verify how well you are following the standard and your procedures, and provide opportunities for improvement.

Why SAI Global

We’re here to help you build a world-class, globally competitive and sustainable Australian Industry today.

With longstanding experience, expertise and a global reputation built on first-class delivery and technical support. SAI Global continues to successfully partner with industry, including suppliers and contractors, throughout their assessment and certification process – while making the process as seamless and simple as possible.

Adding value is at the core of our business and our processes. Let us show you how assessment and certification can add value to your business.

Australia-wide, delivering over 60,000 audits each year, your local SAI Global team is equipped to support your unique requirements.

Still have questions? Contact us for more information.

Contact Us

Sales Enquiries


Not a sales enquiry? Click here to view our office locations and contact details.
Chat with us