The International Standard ISO 14001 sets out requirements for an Environmental Management System (EMS) which can be employed by an organisation to measure and document their environmental impact. Environmental management Systems that meet the ISO 14001 requirements can be externally audited and certified by an accredited Certification Body. The certification body must be accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board in the USA, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service in the UK, or the National Accreditation Board in Ireland. Certification auditors are accredited by the International Registrar of Certification Auditors.

In 2004, the ISO 14001 standard was updated to reflect changes in environmental consciousness. The updated systematic ISO 14001:2004 approach requires organisations to take a hard look at all areas where its activities have an environmental impact. ISO 14001 can lead to benefits such as the following:

  • reduced cost of waste management
  • savings in consumption of energy and materials
  • lower distribution costs
  • improved corporate image among regulators, customers and the public
  • a framework for continual improvement of environmental performance