ISO 14001 defines criteria for an EMS. It does not state requirements for environmental performance but rather maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective EMS. It can be used by any organization that wants to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, and reduce costs. Using ISO 14001 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. ISO 14001 can also be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals.
ISO 14001, like other ISO 14000 standards, is voluntary, with its main aim to assist companies in continually improving their environmental performance and complying with any applicable legislation. The organization sets its own targets and performance measures, and the standard highlights what an organization needs to do to meet those goals, and to monitor and measure the situation. The standard does not focus on measures and goals of environmental performance, but of the organization. The standard can be applied to a variety of levels in the business, from the organizational level down to the product and service level.
ISO 14001 is known as a generic management system standard, meaning that it is relevant to any organization seeking to improve and manage resources more effectively. This includes:
- single-site to large multi-national companies
- high-risk companies to low-risk service organizations
- the manufacturing, process, and service industries, including local governments
- all industry sectors, including public and private sectors
- original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers