The ISO 14001 standard is the most important standard within the ISO 14000 series. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) for small to large organisations. An EMS is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organisation.
ISO 14001 encourages a company to continually improve its environmental performance. Apart from the obvious – the reduction in actual and possible negative environmental impacts – this is achieved in three ways:
- Expansion: More and more business areas get covered by the implemented EMS.
- Enrichment: More and more activities, products, processes, emissions, resources, etc. get managed by the implemented EMS.
- Upgrading: An improvement of the structural and organisational framework of the EMS, as well as an accumulation of know-how in dealing with business-environmental issues.
Overall, the CI concept expects the organisation to gradually move away from merely operational environmental measures towards a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges.