ISO 14001 2015 Operation – Interpreting the requirements of any new standard is always going to be interesting. Getting a reasonable consensus of opinion on what is meant by “operational planning and control” or “operation” within ISO 14001:2015 is no exception.
It is interesting to note that the journey taken by ISO 14001 2015 from CD2 to DIS (Draft International Standard) has resulted in major surgery within Element 8 – “Operation” (meaning operational control within the outgoing standard). A whole chunk has been quietly lopped – 8.2 – Value Chain Control. As a result, Section 8.1 “Operational Planning and Control” has evolved significantly from what was effectively a relatively unchanged section to one which now incorporates a reworded and refined version of value chain control.
In all, this evolution now provides ISO 14001 2015 with a far more usable format that is both more understandable and better for organisations and auditors alike. It also is likely to please the business world (more easily interpreted) and extend the requirements to include the “life cycle” perspective demanded by environmentalists.
The importance of this element of ISO 14001 2015 is huge – after all it is the bit of the standard where real physical activity take place and where the most damage to the environment can take place. This element includes workplace activities such as”putting out the waste”, operating machinery and production lines” or for the construction industry “digging holes” or “doing the dirty laundry” within the hospitality industry.
This element includes the need to determine the environmental requirements for the procurement of products and services with consideration of a life cycle perspective. Adding the words “as appropriate” provides much needed flexibility. This is an important phrase best illustrated by an example.

The story about the Local Asphalt Company

In the case of a road surfacing company located in our local village, the company holds an ISO 14001 certificate (no, they are not accredited, but are certificated) and they purchase a great deal of bitumen which is mixed with selected grades of stone to make asphalt (tarmac). This blend is then extruded through the large road surfacing machines that you see during roadworks.

The bitumen is very black, viscous and hot (it has to be otherwise it sets solid). This material has to be purchased from larger regional companies that process the long chain carbon fractions from the heavy end of the oil refining industry. Our local road surfacing company know of one bitumen supplier that has ISO 14001. Derek,their purchasing manager (the boss) only purchases from this supplier, because he knows that they are reliable and provide a good and cost-competitive service. They are also ISO 14001 certificated themselves.

By doing this, he can include all this in the marketing packs that he sends out to regional councils and the Highways Agency. This wins him business, and he keeps this strategy to himself. He is also quietly pleased with himself for doing this because his kids are learning about environmental issues at the local school. He has given a couple of talks on this to the class and has featured in the school magazine. He knows in the long run this is good for business as well as improving the image of the business locally and regionally. A regional TV crew may be visiting soon to run a spot on the news programme.

ISO 14001 2015 marks a new approach to developing an environmental management system. It builds on the current standard in terms of accountability and action for improvement of environmental performance. ISO 14001 2015 should be more user-friendly to companies of all types and sizes, as shown in this example.