I’m sure we’re all aware that the new standard went live last month. We’ve waited a long time for ISO 14001 – 2015, and now it’s here. ISO 14001 2015 requires that operational planning and control include controls to ensure that environmental aspects are addressed in the design and development process. This should be consistent with a life cycle perspective.

Today I had the opportunity to complete a recertification audit of a drill component manufacturer. A gap analysis was being undertaken against the new ISO 14001:2015 standard whilst at the same time carrying out a periodic audit against ISO 14001:2004. Within their product development process, design and development reviews were taking place at various key stages that are defined within the relevant procedure.

The document was reviewed during my audit, and one of the checkboxes required the responsible design manager to assess the sustainability issues relating to the introduction of the new refined drill component. About 5 different boxes were ticked, and against each was a short paragraph describing the environmental issues (positive and any negative) arising from the new product.

One issue related to energy consumption during use. This section stated that energy use would be reduced throughout the downstream life of the product. Energy saving would arise for the hundreds of factories around the world that use these new drill bits for high intensity work within the automotive and aerospace industries.

Multiply that by the many thousands of drill bits used then this would amount to a very significant energy saving.

The inclusion of the environmental and sustainability benefits arising from the development and business introduction of the drill component at this early stage provides an excellent example of environmental planning using the broad principles of life-cycle analysis.

By identifying the upstream and downstream aspects of your product or service, the resulting changes could create huge environmental improvements for your customers. This multiplier effect is the main reason why ISO 14001:2015 requires consideration of life cycle thinking within the EMS of your organisation.