A Look at Four EMS Alternatives to ISO 14001:2015

Did you know that there are four alternative Standards for Environmental Management Systems?
But which is the best option for your needs?

In this article, we will look at the main Environmental Management System standards: ISO 14001:2015 and four alternative options and give you the information to allow you to choose which one is right for your organisation.

I thought it would be useful to cover ISO 14001:2015, first, within this episode to give a reference point to the four ISO 14001 alternatives.

The first standard is ISO 14001:2015 and the one that many are familiar with.

It is a hugely popular International Standard, which was published in its first edition in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

It’s key benefit is that it is applicable to any organisation, irrespective of their type and size anywhere in the world.

The International Standard can be dauting at first as it has many requirements that you need to met.

However, its popularity means that it has been taken up by Certification Bodies, globally, & is supported by environmental Auditors and Consultancies & training organisations.

In terms of its market penetration, an ISO Survey based on data available at the end of December 2019 found that there are accredited ISO 14001 certificates covering 312,580 organisations and 487,950 sites, worldwide.

If you want the market-leading Environmental Management System standard, then ISO 14001:2015 is the one for you.

If ISO 14001:2015 sounds too daunting for you, ISO 14005 could be the standard for you to base your Environmental Management System.

Here again, the standard was developed by ISO.

It is intended to provide a flexible approach to a phased implementation of ISO 14001:2015. The phased approach means that it is ideally suited for Small and Medium sized organisations (SMEs) irrespective of your different starting point, needs and abilities to develop your Environmental Management System.

Again, like ISO 14001, it can be used anywhere in the world and for any sector.

Currently, there is no readily available data on how many organisations are using ISO 14005 but many may be using it as a medium- to long- term development of their Environmental Management System as it is more suitable to their needs that ISO 14001.

In a similar vein, BS 8555:2016 is, also, a phased approach to implementing an Environmental Management System.

It was developed by the British Standards Institution to meet the needs of Small and Medium sized organisations (SMEs) and for a staged implementation towards an ISO 14001-based Environmental Management System.

It should, however, be noted that this Standard was withdrawn earlier in 2020 as ISO 14005 discussed earlier was seen as its replacement & under ISO and European Standards obligations, BSI was required to withdraw BS 8555 and to cease any further development of this standard.

However, there are many who find that BS 8555 provides good guidance for the phased implementation of an EMS & it is still available from BSI even though it will not be developed any further and will, eventually, fall outside of the best and developing environmental best practice.

It can be used globally and applies to any sector with its guidance being ideally suited for Small and Medium sized organisations (SMEs).

In 2009, there were an estimated 3000 organisations and 500 sites using BS 8555 and being regularly inspected by an accredited Inspection Body to ensure that they still meet the requirements of the Standard.

Our next alternative Environmental Management System Standard is more than a Standard.

It is a European Union Regulation, even more so, it is a voluntary Regulation.

This sounds like a contradiction but what is being said is that if an organisation wants to, voluntarily,  use the EMAS Regulation, they can make that choice but once you start to use it the Regulation’s requirements apply to your Environmental Management System.

Unlike any of the other Standards in this episode, the EMAS Regulation (or the Eco-Management & Audit Scheme, to give it is full title) was developed by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament.

It follows the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 for its general requirements with additional requirements for environmental core indicators to adequately document environmental performance and employee involvement.

Although it is a European Union Regulation, it can be used by any organisation or sector worldwide with the development of EMAS Global. Indeed, Sectoral Reference Documents (SRDs) on Best Environmental Management Practice have been developed to provide guidance and inspiration to organisations in specific sectors, such as the retail trade and construction, on how to further improve environmental performance.

The latest data from April 2020 shows that 3,652 organisations have been registered to the EMAS Regulation covering 12,515 sites. It should be noted that the EMAS Regulation involves appointed bodies in each EU Member State for accreditation or licensing of EMAS Verifiers, who undertake the role of auditing EMAS systems & registration for the successful organisations who meet the requirements of the EMAS Regulation.

The next EMS standard is RC 14001:2015, which was developed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

It is an amalgam of their Responsible Care elements and the ISO 14001 EMS standard, which includes the full ISO 14001 Management Systems Standard and an expanded scope to cover occupational health and safety, etc.  At the end of the third-party audit, the organisation receives certificates for both ISO 14001 and RC 14001.

It is applicable globally. And, whilst, the initial impetus for RC 14001 was within the chemical industry, it has found some traction in several non-chemical companies, such as cement, mining, pharmaceuticals and paper mills.

The current estimate for the take-up of RC 14001 is 90 companies across 350 facilities.

I hope that this article on the four ISO 14001 Alternatives has awakened your interest. So, why not try them out in the development or enhancement of your Environmental Management System.

Where to get ISO 14001:2015 or any of the four alterative EMS Standards?
Each of the EMS Standards referenced in this article can be readily obtained online with the ISO and BSI Standards available from the respective websites.

RC 14001 is available for US$140 before taxes from the American Chemical Council & the EMAS Regulation available for a free download from the European Commission website.

EMS StandardWebsite
ISO 14001:2015https://www.iso.org/standard/60857.html
ISO 14005:2019https://www.iso.org/standard/72333.html
BS 8555:2016https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail?pid=000000000030339300
EMAS Regulationhttps://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32009R1221
RC 14001:2015 https://store.americanchemistry.com/products/rc14001%C2%AE-2015-technical-specification

I hope that this article has given you an insight into the value of alternative Standards to support the development and maintenance of Environmental Management System. Any questions on this article, please leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed this article, you should subscribe to our YouTube Channel – EMSmastery, where you can watch our videos, such as our video accompanying this article on A Look at Four EMS Alternatives to 14001:2015 and subscribe in our YouTube channel for new videos released each week.

#ISO14005, #EMAS, #RC14001, #EMSmastery

Share this article on Social Media:

Leave a Reply