The ISO 14000 is a standard for environmental management systems that is applicable to any business, regardless of size, location or income. The aim of the standard is to reduce the environmental footprint of a business and to decrease the pollution and waste a business produces. The most recent version of ISO 14001 was released in 2004 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which has representation from committees all over the world.
The major objective of the ISO 14000 series of norms is "to promote more effective and efficient environmental management in organizations and to provide useful and usable tools - ones that are cost effective, system-based, flexible and reflect the best organizations and the best organizational practices available for gathering, interpreting and communicating environmentally relevant information". The intended end result is the improvement of environmental performance.
It offers source of guidance for introducing and adopting environmental management systems based on the best universal practices, in the same way that the ISO 9000 series on quality management systems, which is now widely applied, represents a tool for technology transfer of the best available quality management practices.
The ISO 14000 environmental management standards exist to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment. In structure it is similar to ISO 9000 quality management and both can be implemented side by side.
Environmental Management involves the management of all components of the bio-physical environment, both living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic). This is due to the interconnected and network of relationships amongst all living species and their habitats. The environment also involves the relationships of the human environment, such as the social, cultural and economic environment with the bio-physical environment.
As with all management functions, effective management tools, standards and systems are required. An 'environmental management standard' or system or protocol attempts to 'reduce environmental impact' as measured by some objective criteria. The ISO 14001 standard is the most widely used standard for environmental risk management and is closely aligned to the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). As a common auditing standard, the ISO 19011 standard explains how to combine this with quality management.
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