ISO 14000 is a series of environmental management standards developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization ( ISO ) for organizations. The ISO 14000 standards provide a guideline or framework for organizations that need to systematize and improve their environmental management efforts. The ISO 14000 standards are not designed to aid the enforcement of environmental laws and do not regulate the environmental activities of organizations. Adherence to these standards is voluntary.
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The ISO 14001 standard is the most important standard within the ISO 14000 series. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) for small to large organizations. An EMS is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organization. The ISO 14001 standard is based on the Plan-Check-Do-Review-Improve cycle.
The Plan cycle deals with the beginning stages of an organization becoming ISO 14001-compliant. The Check cycle deals with checking and correcting errors. The Do cycle is the implementation and operation of the ISO 14001 standard within an organization. The Review cycle is a review of the entire process by the organization's top management. And the Improve cycle is a cycle that never ends as an organization continually finds ways to improve their EMS.
The entire process can take several months to several years depending on the size of the organization. If an organization is already ISO 9000-certified, the implementation of ISO 14001 does not take as long. When an organization is compliant, they can either register with a third-party registrar or self-declare their compliance. The ISO 14001 standard is the only ISO 14000 standard that allows an organization to be registered or "certified.
The Technical Committee (TC) behind ISO 14000 is TC 207.