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ISO 14001 for Continual Improvement

ISO 14001 requires an organization to demonstrate a commitment to compliance with environmental laws, pollution prevention and continual improvement. Of these three, continual improvement poses a unique challenge, due to its need for constant renewal. This challenge can be met through an appropriate design for the environmental management system (EMS), i.e. one that fosters continual improvement.

With twelve references to requirements related to continual improvement in the main body of the Standard, it is clearly a cornerstone of ISO 14001. The intention is that the management system is improved on a continual basis, although most organizations tend to focus on improving their environmental performance through objectives and targets and rely on the combination of their corrective/preventive action program, internal audit program and management review to improve the EMS. Even in the latter case, the intention is that an improved EMS will lead to improved overall performance.

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