ISO 14001 Continual Improvement Survey 2013

Compliance Management, ISO Standards, Management Systems

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) committee responsible for ISO/TC 207/SC1 carried out a survey of the environmental management system standard ISO 14001 in 2013. This survey sought to gain information from users in relation to the standards current benefits and what could be improved, as the standard is currently being revised. It received over 5,000 responses and the general feedback was that ISO 14001 is particularly useful in meeting legal requirements and improving environmental performance. However, a clearer focus on preventing pollution, eco-efficiency and life-cycle thinking should be provided in the next version of the standard.


  • Responses from 110 countries
  • 94% maintained ISO 14001
  • >50% of respondents from Europe
  • >52% of organisation had 250 or more employees
  • Almost 70% from manufacturing / processing industries
  • 46% from SME’s

Value of ISO 14001

  • Close to 75% of participants indicated ‘high’ or ‘very high’ value for meeting legal requirements and improving the organization’s environmental performance
  • >60% indicated ‘high’ to ‘very high value’ for management commitment and employee engagement
  • Responses from users  suggest ISO 14001 has provided considerable value for business management including:
    • Satisfying Stakeholder requirements 
    • Improving public image
    • Achieving strategic objectives
    • Integrating with business management systems

Future Challenges

According to the survey results  the most important issues that required more attention were:

  • Reducing and controlling pollution
  • Strategies for efficient use of resources
  • Reducing waste and pollution
  • Identifying and evaluating the environmental aspects related to the life cycle of products and services.

For all future challenges other than prevention of pollution, a majority of responses suggested a limited to moderate approach that provides clarification and guidance, rather than new requirements. However, for prevention of pollution, 46% indicated a strong approach, consistent with the weighted average rating results.


The survey indicated a number of areas where there could be more focused attention including:

  • Prevention of pollution
  • Eco-efficiency
  • Life cycle thinking
  • Clearer information and guidance in ISO 14001 Annex A and ISO 14004

Per Arne Syrrist, Convenor of the group responsible for the revision to ISO 14004 responded to the survey results by saying:

“Our challenge in the ongoing revision of ISO 14004 will be to provide a deeper insight into environmental management for a wide variety of users. This survey has shown that people are not as aware of this resource as we had hoped.” 

ISO 14001 is currently at the Committee Draft phase (CD). The group dealing with the revision is meeting in Panama City in May to address comments and prepare a draft for public enquiry later this year. The revised version is expected by mid-2015.

The full survey results and accompanying report can be found here.

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international standards organisation , ISO , ISO 14001 , ISO 14001 Revision , ISO 14001 survey , ISO 14004 , ISO standards
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