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ISO Standards for Environmental Management - Specific and General

ISO provides environmental management system standards that can be implemented in any type of organization in either public or private sector. This system is globally recognized for quality and environmental sustainability.

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ISO standards -- coordinated and developed by the International Organization for Standardization, offer a wide-ranging portfolio of standardized sampling, testing and analytical methods to deal with specific environmental challenges.

ISO has developed more than 560 International Standards (out of a total of over 17,000) for the monitoring of such aspects as the quality of air, water and soil.

These globally recognized ISO standards are a means of providing business and government with scientifically valid data on the environmental effects of economic acitivity. They also serve in a number of countries as the technical basis for environmental regulations.

ISO is also leading a strategic approach by developing environmental management system standards that can be implemented in any type of organization in either public or private sector (companies, administrations, public utilities). To spearhead this strategic approach, ISO established a new technical committee, ISO/TC 207, Environmental management, in 1993. This followed ISO's successful pioneering experience in management system standardization with the ISO 9000 series for quality management.

Product Design Standards

In addition to standards on environmental management systems and supporting tools, TC 207 works on documents to facilitate the fusion of business and environmental goals by encouraging the inclusion of environmental aspects in product design - which represents the third axis of ISO's environmental approach. An example is a technical report which promotes the convergence of environment-friendly products with company profits.

The management of environmental aspects and impacts has established itself as a cornerstone of effective organizational practice alongside the management of quality, security, and health and safety issues.

Ongoing concern about environmental issues and sustainable development has significantly affected global practices in recent years as organizations strive to be responsive to government regulations, shareholder concerns and interested parties’ expectations all at the same time.

The basic ISO standard for environmental management is ISO 14001 -- which provides standards for environmental auditing and performance evaluation, product labelling and declarations, lifecycle assessment, greenhouse gas emission reporting, and other global ISO standards. This global ISO standard for environmental processes provides effective management tools for organizations to better manage and communicate about their environmental aspects and to work towards improving their environmental performance and contributing to sustainable development.

When used properly, these environmental standards tools can provide significant advantages and benefits to users in both the private and public sectors.

ISO technical committees that deal with the quality of important elements of our planet include:

  • ISO/TC 207
  • ISO/TC 146 Air quality
  • ISO/TC 147 Water quality
  • ISO/TC 190 Soil quality

For example, the objectives of the ISO/TC 146 are: Standardization of tools for air quality characterization of emissions, workplace air, ambient air, indoor air, in particular measurement methods for air pollutants (particles, gases, odors, micro-organisms) and for meteorological parameters, measurement planning, procedures for Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) and methods for the evaluation of results including the determination of uncertainty.

Get the details about ISO standards.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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