ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities
The organization shall establish, implement and maintain the processes needed to meet the requirements in 6.1.1 to 6.1.4.
When planning for the environmental management system, the organization shall consider:
and determine the risks and opportunities, related to its:
that need to be addressed to:
Within the scope of the environmental management system, the organization shall determine potential emergency situations, including those that can have an environmental impact .
The organization shall maintain documented information of its:
A.6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities
The overall intent of the process(es) established in 6.1.1 is to ensure that the organization is able to achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system, to prevent or reduce undesired effects, and to achieve continual improvement. The organization can ensure this by determining its risks and opportunities that need to be addressed and planning action to address them. These risks and opportunities can be related to environmental aspects, compliance obligations, other issues or other needs and expectations of interested parties.
Environmental aspects (see 6.1.2) can create risks and opportunities associated with adverse environmental impacts, beneficial environmental impacts, and other effects on the organization. The risks and opportunities related to environmental aspects can be determined as part of the significance evaluation or determined separately.
Compliance obligations (see 6.1.3) can create risks and opportunities, such as failing to comply (which can damage the organization’s reputation or result in legal action) or performing beyond its compliance obligations (which can enhance the organization’s reputation).
The organization can also have risks and opportunities related to other issues, including environmental conditions or needs and expectations of interested parties, which can affect the organization’s ability to achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system, e.g.
Emergency situations are unplanned or unexpected events that need the urgent application of specific competencies, resources or processes to prevent or mitigate their actual or potential consequences.
Emergency situations can result in adverse environmental impacts or other effects on the organization.
When determining potential emergency situations (e.g. fire, chemical spill, severe weather), the organization should consider:
Although risks and opportunities need to be determined and addressed, there is no requirement for formal risk management or a documented risk management process. It is up to the organization to select the method it will use to determine its risks and opportunities. The method may involve a simple qualitative process or a full quantitative assessment depending on the context in which the organization operates.
The risks and opportunities identified (see 6.1.1 to 6.1.3) are inputs for planning actions (see 6.1.4) and for establishing the environmental objectives (see 6.2).
6.1.2 Environmental aspects
Within the defined scope of the environmental management system, the organization shall determine the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services that it can control and those that it can influence, and their associated environmental impacts, considering a life cycle perspective.
When determining environmental aspects, the organization shall take into account:
The organization shall determine those aspects that have or can have a significant environmental impact, i.e. significant environmental aspects, by using established criteria.
The organization shall communicate its significant environmental aspects among the various levels and functions of the organization, as appropriate.
The organization shall maintain documented information of its:
NOTE Significant environmental aspects can result in risks and opportunities associated with either adverse environmental impacts (threats) or beneficial environmental impacts (opportunities).
A.6.1.2 Environmental aspects
An organization determines its environmental aspects and associated environmental impacts, and determines those that are significant and, therefore, need to be addressed by its environmental management system.
Changes to the environment, either adverse or beneficial, that result wholly or partially from environmental aspects are called environmental impacts. The environmental impact can occur at local, regional and global scales, and also can be direct, indirect or cumulative by nature. The relationship between environmental aspects and environmental impacts is one of cause and effect.
When determining environmental aspects, the organization considers a life cycle perspective. This does not require a detailed life cycle assessment; thinking carefully about the life cycle stages that can be controlled or influenced by the organization is sufficient. Typical stages of a product (or service) life cycle include raw material acquisition, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, end-of life treatment and final disposal. The life cycle stages that are applicable will vary depending on the activity, product or service.
An organization needs to determine the environmental aspects within the scope of its environmental management system. It takes into account the inputs and outputs (both intended and unintended) that are associated with its current and relevant past activities, products and services; planned or new developments; and new or modified activities, products and services. The method used should consider normal and abnormal operating conditions, shut-down and start-up conditions, as well as the reasonably foreseeable emergency situations identified in 6.1.1. Attention should be paid to prior occurrences of emergency situations. For information on environmental aspects as part of managing change, see Clause A.1.
An organization does not have to consider each product, component or raw material individually to determine and evaluate their environmental aspects; it may group or categorize activities, products and services when they have common characteristics.
When determining its environmental aspects, the organization can consider:
Consideration should be given to environmental aspects related to the organization’s activities, products and services, such as:
There is no single method for determining significant environmental aspects, however, the method and criteria used should provide consistent results. The organization sets the criteria for determining its significant environmental aspects. Environmental criteria are the primary and minimum criteria for assessing environmental aspects. Criteria can relate to the environmental aspect (e.g. type, size, frequency) or the environmental impact (e.g. scale, severity, duration, exposure). Other criteria may also be used. An environmental aspect might not be significant when only considering environmental criteria. It can, however, reach or exceed the threshold for determining significance when other criteria are considered. These other criteria can include organizational issues, such as legal requirements or interested party concerns. These other criteria are not intended to be used to downgrade an aspect that is significant based on its environmental impact.
A significant environmental aspect can result in one or more significant environmental impacts, and can therefore result in risks and opportunities that need to be addressed to ensure the organization can achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system.
6.1.3 Compliance obligations
The organization shall:
The organization shall maintain documented information of its compliance obligations.
NOTE Compliance obligations can result in risks and opportunities to the organization.
A.6.1.3 Compliance obligations
The organization determines, at a sufficiently detailed level, the compliance obligations it identified in 4.2 that are applicable to its environmental aspects, and how they apply to the organization. Compliance obligations include legal requirements that an organization has to comply with and other requirements that the organization has to or chooses to comply with.
Mandatory legal requirements related to an organization’s environmental aspects can include, if applicable:
Compliance obligations also include other interested party requirements related to its environmental management system which the organization has to or chooses to adopt. These can include, if applicable:
6.1.4 Planning action
The organization shall plan:
1. to take actions to address its:
When planning these actions, the organization shall consider its technological options and its financial, operational and business requirements.
A.6.1.4 Planning action
The organization plans, at a high level, the actions that have to be taken within the environmental management system to address its significant environmental aspects, its compliance obligations, and the risks and opportunities identified in 6.1.1 that are a priority for the organization to achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system.
The actions planned may include establishing environmental objectives (see 6.2) or may be incorporated into other environmental management system processes, either individually or in combination. Some actions may be addressed through other management systems, such as those related to occupational health and safety or business continuity, or through other business processes related to risk, financial or human resource management.
When considering its technological options, an organization should consider the use of best-available techniques, where economically viable, cost-effective and judged appropriate. This is not intended to imply that organizations are obliged to use environmental cost-accounting methodologies.
6.2 Environmental objectives and planning to achieve them
6.2.1 Environmental objectives
The organization shall establish environmental objectives at relevant functions and levels, taking into account the organization’s significant environmental aspects and associated compliance obligations, and considering its risks and opportunities.
The environmental objectives shall be:
The organization shall maintain documented information on the environmental objectives.
6.2.2 Planning actions to achieve environmental objectives
When planning how to achieve its environmental objectives, the organization shall determine:
The organization shall consider how actions to achieve its environmental objectives can be integrated into the organization’s business processes.
A.6.2 Environmental objectives and planning to achieve them
Top management may establish environmental objectives at the strategic level, the tactical level or the operational level. The strategic level includes the highest levels of the organization and the environmental objectives can be applicable to the whole organization. The tactical and operational levels can include environmental objectives for specific units or functions within the organization and should be compatible with its strategic direction.
Environmental objectives should be communicated to persons working under the organization’s control who have the ability to influence the achievement of environmental objectives.
The requirement to “take into account significant environmental aspects” does not mean that an environmental objective has to be established for each significant environmental aspect, however, these have a high priority when establishing environmental objectives.
“Consistent with the environmental policy” means that the environmental objectives are broadly aligned and harmonized with the commitments made by top management in the environmental policy, including the commitment to continual improvement.
Indicators are selected to evaluate the achievement of measurable environmental objectives.
“Measurable” means it is possible to use either quantitative or qualitative methods in relation to a specified scale to determine if the environmental objective has been achieved. By specifying “if practicable”, it is acknowledged that there can be situations when it is not feasible to measure an environmental objective, however, it is important that the organization is able to determine whether or not an environmental objective has been achieved.
For additional information on environmental indicators, see ISO 14031.