Home » ISO 14001:2004 EMS » ISO 14001-Clause 4.3.1

ISO 14001-Clause 4.3.1

ISO 14001-Clause 4.3 Planning

This main clause addresses all the steps necessary in designing from the  initial identification of environmental aspects to the setting of objectives and targets within the framework of applicable legislation.

ISO 14001-Clause 4.3.1  Environmental aspects

ISO 14001 Requirements

The organization shall establish, implement and maintain a procedure(s)

  1. to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services within the defined scope of the environmental management system that it can control and those that it can influence taking into account planned or new developments, or new or modified activities, products and services, and
  2. to determine those aspects that have or can have significant impact(s) on the environment i.e. significant environmental aspects.

The organization shall document this information and keep it up to date.

The organization shall ensure that the significant environmental aspects are taken into account in establishing,  implementing and maintaining its environmental management system.


The Standard requires that the organization shall establish and maintain procedures to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products or services that it can control and those over which can be expected to have an influence, in order to determine those which have or can have significant impacts on the environment. This planning also includes new developments, activities, products or services. Influence refers really to suppliers and customers. Activity can be defined as “A Task or Operation general occurring within the Organization.” Environment aspects can be defined as “Element of an  organization’s activities, products, or  services that can interact with the environment.” Environment impact can be defined as “Any change to the  environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an  organization’s activities,  products,or services.”

Example of Relation between Activity,aspects and Impact

Activity Aspects Impacts
Changing Oil
  • Air Emissions
  • Use of Oil, Absorbents
  • Recycling of Oil
  • Spills
  • Degrade Air Quality
  • Consumption of Natural Resources
  • Increase Landfill Space
  • Degrade Water Quality
Operation of Equipments
  • Dust Generations
  • Air Emissions
  • Use of Raw materials
  • Degradation of Air Quality
  • Degradation of Air Quality
  • Use of Natural resources.
Central Air Conditioning Energy Consumption Use of Natural Resources
 Land filling Disposal  Contamination of land
 Storm Water Management Water Flow  Erosion
 Excavation Soil disturbance Erosion
 Generation of Solid Waste  Land Usage  Aesthetics and Community environment
 Toilet flushing and Hand Washing  Water Usages  Use of natural resources
 flaring  air emissions  Air degradation
Processing of composting  Water quality  Water degradation
 Farming  Tillage
  • Erosion,
  • sediment Loading

To plan for and control its significant environmental impacts, an organization must first know what these impacts are. But knowing what the impacts are is only part of the challenge, you also should know where these impacts come from. The identification and management of environmental  aspects can (1) have positive impacts on the bottom line and (2) provide significant environmental improvements. The relationship between aspects and impacts is one of cause and effect. The term “aspects” is neutral, so keep in mind that your environmental aspects could be either positive such as making a product out of recycled materials or negative such as discharge of toxic materials to a stream.Your organization is not expected to manage issues  outside its sphere of influence. For example, while your organization probably has control over how much electricity it uses, it likely does not control the way in which the electricity is generated. Once you have identified the environmental aspects of your products, activities, and services, you should determine which aspects could have significant impacts on the environment. These environmental aspects should be considered when you set your environmental objectives and define your operational controls.

Multi step process
Multi step process for evaluation of Aspect

In identifying aspects and impacts, you should look at activities including activities controlled by applicable laws and regulations. But because many of your aspects/impacts may be addressed by legal requirements, your compliance program might yield some valuable information. Permits, audit reports, and other such documents can serve as useful inputs. Beyond regulations, look at issues such as land, energy, and other natural resource use.Once you have identified environmental aspects and related significant impacts, use this information in setting your objectives and targets. This does not mean that you need to address all of your impacts at once. There may be good reasons such as cost,  availability  of technology, and scientific uncertainty for addressing some impacts now and deferring action on others. Keep in mind that managing  environmental aspects could have positive business impacts.  Remember to look at services as well as products.  While the need to examine your on-site operations might be obvious, you should also consider the potential impacts of what you do off-site such as servicing equipment at customer sites. Similarly, the environmental aspects of the products, vendors, and contractors you use may be less obvious, but should still be considered. Identifying significant environmental aspects is one of the most critical elements of the EMS and can be one of the most challenging. Decisions you make in this task can affect many other system elements such as, setting objectives and targets, establishing operational controls, and defining monitoring needs. Careful planning and conduct of this activity will pay dividends in later steps.

To understand your environmental aspects, it helps to understand the processes by which you generate products and services. A flow chart of your major processes might help you understand the inputs and outputs of your processes and how materials are used. You may also want to consider the views of interested parties — some organizations have found external parties to be a good resource to help you identify your organization’s environmental aspects. There are many readily-available sources of information to help you perform your assessment. For starters, look at your permits, various regulations that apply to your operations, audit reports, and monitoring records. Trade associations, regulatory agencies, your customers and suppliers also might provide useful information to support your assessment.

Things to Consider in Evaluating Environmental Aspects:

  • Air Emissions
  • Water Effluents
  • Solid and Hazardous Wastes
  • Land Use
  • Contamination of Land Raw Material
  • Resource Use
  • Local Issues Normal and Abnormal Conditions such as  noise, odor, dust, traffic, appearance, etc.

Audit Checklist:

  1. Has the organisation established, implemented and maintained a procedure to identify the environmental aspects of activities, products or services that are within the scope of its EMS, and that it can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence?
  2. Does the Procedure includes planned or new developments, or new or modified activities, products and services?
  3. How does the procedure determine those aspects that have or can have significant impacts on the environment? (ie. Are details of assessment methodology included).
  4. Are the details of these assessments documented?
  5. Are significant aspects considered throughout all of the EMS processes (eg. documentation, communication, emergency preparedness and response, internal audits)?
  6. Is the procedure(s) maintained?
  7. How is the information on the environmental aspects documented and kept up to date?

Mandatory Procedure :

pdf Example of Procedure for Identification and Evaluation of Environmental Aspects

Mandatory record:

pdf Example of  Aspect and Impact Register
pdf Example of  Significant Aspect and Impact Register

Evidence/Implementation document ( Not mandatory but helps in fulfillment of requirement):

pdf Example of Procedure for Environmental Review of New Processes, Materials, and Projects
pdf Example of Environmental checklist for New processes and Materials

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