The ISO 14000 is a family of internationally recognised standards for environmental management systems that is applicable to any business or organisation, regardless of size, location or income. These standards are developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), which has representation from committees all over the world. The ISO 14000 family includes most notably the ISO 14001 standard, which represents the core set of standards used by organizations for designing and implementing an effective environmental management system. Other standards included in this series are ISO 14015, which gives additional guidelines for a good environmental management system, and more specialized standards dealing with specific aspects of environmental management.
The ISO 14000 environmental management standards exist to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment. The major objective of the ISO 14000 series of norms is "to promote more effective and efficient environmental management in organisations 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".
It offers a 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. In structure the ISO 14000 series is similar to ISO 9000 quality management and both can be implemented side by side.
ISO 14001 is the principal management system standard which specifies the requirements for the formulation and maintenance of an EMS. There are three fundamental commitments required in an environmental policy that meets the requirements of ISO 14001. These include:
prevention of pollution
compliance with legislation
continual improvement of the EMS