ISO has published a new, updated brochure providing a basic introduction, as its title indicates, to Environmental management – The ISO 14000 family of International Standards.

The 12-page, colour brochure is the latest edition of a successful publication first released in 1998, two years after the launching of the first standards in the ISO 14000 family. Since then, the ISO 14000 standards have achieved a worldwide impact and the brochure gives a concise idea of  how the family has evolved to provide comprehensive solutions to the range of environmental challenges facing business, government and society today.

The brochure was authored by experts from ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management, which is responsible for the the ISO 14000 family. They point out that the ISO 14000 standards not only provide environmental benefits, but also significant tangible economic benefits, including the following:

  • Reduced raw material/resource use
  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Improved process efficiency
  • Reduced waste generation and disposal costs
  • Utilization of recoverable resources.

The brochure includes an overview of the standards making up the ISO 14000 family. The best known standard is ISO 14001:2004. By end of December 2008, the standard was being used by organizations in 155 countries as a framework for environmental management systems (EMS) to manage better the impact of their activities on the environment and to demonstrate sound environmental management. Other published standards, which can be used independently or in combination with ISO 14001 and with each other, address the following topics:

  • Environmental performance
  • Environmental labels and declarations
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, verification and accreditation
  • Environmental communication
  • Environmental aspects in product standards.

Further documents now under development provide tools for the following activities:

  • Eco-efficiency assessment
  • Material flow cost accounting
  • Carbon footprint of products (and its calculation)
  • Phased implementation of an EMS
  • Eco-design
  • Quantitative environmental evaluation
  • Competence requirements for GHG validators and verifiers.

The ISO 14000 family is designed to be implemented according to the same Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle underlying all ISO management systems standards. A table in the brochure classifies the ISO 14000 standards according their optimal place in the PDCA cycle. Other sections cover the following aspects:

  • ISO's overall contribution to the environment, which goes beyond the work ISO/TC 207
  • Environmental management and sustainability
  • An introduction to ISO/TC 207, including its origins and the global participation in its work.

Because the work of ISO/TC 207 is constantly evolving, the committee's section on the ISO Web site should be consulted for the latest information on its work programme and membership. However, the new edition of the ISO 14000 brochure answers a need for a basic, but comprehensive introduction for distribution at conferences, or requested by potential users of the standards, and by students.

Environmental management – The ISO 14000 family of International Standards, which is published in English and French paper editions, is available free of charge (fee for postage and handling of bulk orders) from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department. It can also be obtained from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). The brochure is also available as a PDF file on the ISO Web site.

The ISO 14000 family

A basic introduction to the ISO 14000 family of standards.