ISO 14001 2004 Definitions

ISO 14001 2004 is now obsolete. See the NEW ISO 14001 2015 DICTIONARY.



The term Continual improvement refers to an
ongoing process of performance enhancement.
In the context of this environmental standard, it
means that you need to enhance your organizationís
overall environmental performance by enhancing
its environmental management system and by improving
its ability to manage the environmental aspects of its
activities, products, and services.

Continual improvements can be achieved by carrying
out internal audits, performing management reviews,
analyzing data, and implementing corrective
and preventive actions.


Corrective actions are steps that are taken to
remove the causes of an existing nonconformity.
Corrective actions address actual problems.

In general, the corrective action process can
be thought of as a problem solving process.


When information is placed on a medium it becomes
a document. In this context, the term medium usually
refers to paper. But it can also refer to electronic,
magnetic, or optical disks. A set of documents
is often referred to as documentation.


The term environment refers to an organizationís natural
and human surroundings. An organizationís environment
extends from within the organization itself to the global
system, and includes air, water, land, flora, fauna,
as well as human beings.


If an activity, product, or service interacts with
the environment, it has an
environmental aspect.
But what exactly is an
environmental aspect?
An environmental
aspect is a feature or characteristic
of an activity, product,
or service that affects or can
affect the environment.

In order to identify your environmental aspects
you need to study how your organizationís activities,
products, and services affect the environment. For
each type
of activity, product, or service you need
to list your unique
environmental aspects. However,
you donít have to worry about every environmental
You only have to work on the most
significant environmental aspectsĖthose that 
have or could have a significant environmental
impact. Furthermore, you do not have to
work on all significant aspects, only those
that you can actually
influence or control.


An environmental impact is a change to the environment.
Such change can be positive or negative. Environmental
impacts are caused by environmental aspects. Your
environmental aspects can have a direct and decisive
impact on the environment or contribute only partially
or indirectly to a larger environmental change.

system (EMS)

An organizationís environmental management system
is one part of a larger management system. The
EMS part of this larger management system is used to
establish an environmental policy and to manage the
environmental aspects of an organizationís activities,
products, and services. 

A management system is a network of interrelated
elements. Elements include responsibilities, authorities,
relationships, functions, processes, procedures,
practices, and resources. A management system
uses these
elements to establish policies and
objectives and to
develop ways of applying these
policies and achieving these objectives.


An environmental objective is a specific environmental
goal. Your organizationís environmental objectives
must be consistent with its environmental policy.


Environmental performance is all about how
well an organization manages the environmental
aspects of its activities, products, and services
and the impact they have on the environment
Your organizationís environmental performance
can be improved by reducing its negative environmental
impact or increasing its positive environmental impact.

In order to be able to determine how well environmental
aspects are being managed, environmental performance
should be measurable.

You can measure your overall environmental
performance by comparing your environmental
management achievements against your
environmental policy,
objectives, targets,
or any other suitable environmental
performance requirements.


An environmental policy statement expresses
commitment to the implementation and maintenance
of an organizationís environmental management
system and the improvement of its overall
environmental performance.

An environmental policy should also emphasize
the need to prevent pollution and to comply with
all relevant legal and other requirements.

In general, an environmental policy should be
used to generate environmental
and targets, and should act as a general
framework for action.


An environmental target is a detailed performance
requirement. Environmental targets are derived from
environmental objectives and are used to achieve
these objectives. Targets can apply to specific
areas or to the organization as a whole.


An interested party is a person or group that has
a stake in the environmental performance of an
organization. Interested parties may be directly

affected by the organization or actively concerned
with its environmental performance.

Internal audit

In the context of this standard, an internal audit
is a systematic evidence gathering process
that is carried out in order to evaluate how well
an environmental management system meets
a set of
audit criteria established by your
organization. Internal audits must be
independent, objective, and impartial.

According to section 4.5.5 of this standard, your
internal audits
should determine whether your
management system complies
with the ISO 14001
standard and other planned

In addition, section 4.5.5 expects you to determine
whether your environmental management system
is properly implemented and maintained.


A management system is a network of interrelated
elements. Elements include responsibilities, authorities,
relationships, activities, functions, processes, practices,
procedures, and resources.

A management system uses these elements to establish
policies and objectives and to develop ways of applying
these policies and achieving these objectives.


Preventive actions are steps that are taken to remove the
causes of potential nonconformitiesóones that haven't
yet occurred. In general, the preventive action process
can be thought of as a risk analysis process.

of pollution

To prevent pollution means to avoid, reduce, or control
the creation, emission, or discharge of contaminants or
waste materials. Pollution must be prevented in order
to reduce adverse environmental impacts.

Organizations use a wide variety of methods, techniques,
practices, processes, products, and services to prevent
pollution. These include the reduction or elimination of
pollution at the source; the efficient use of resources,
materials, and energy; the reuse, recovery, reclamation,
and recycling of resources; the redesign of processes,
products, and services; and the substitution of one
type of energy source or substance for another
cleaner energy source or substance.


A procedure is a way of carrying out a process or an
activity. According to section 3.19, you do not have to
document your procedures unless ISO 14001 2004
explicitly says you must do so.

A documented procedure describes and controls
a logically distinct process or activity, including
the associated inputs and outputs. Documented
procedures can be very general or very detailed,
or anywhere in between. While a general procedure
could take the form of a simple flow diagram,
a detailed procedure could be a one page
form or it could be several pages of text.

detailed documented procedure defines and
controls the work that should be done, and explains
how it should be done, who should do it, and under
what circumstances. In addition, it often explains what
authority and what responsibility has been allocated,
which supplies and materials should be used,
and which documents and records must be
used to carry out the work.


A record is a document that contains objective evidence
which shows how well activities are being performed or
what kind of results are being achieved. It always
documents what has happened in the past.

ISO 14001 2015 LIBRARY

Introduction to ISO 14001 2015

Outline of ISO 14001 2015 Standard

Overview of ISO 14001 2015 Standard

ISO 14001 2015 Internal Audit Program

ISO 14001 2015 versus ISO 14001 2004

Plain English ISO 14001 2015 Definitions

ISO 14001 2015 Translated into Plain English

Plain English ISO 14001 2015 Gap Analysis Tool

ISO 14001 2015 Environmental Management Checklist

Skills Environmental Management Auditors Should Have

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Updated on February 1, 2016. First published on March 7, 2005.

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