EMS Terms and Definitions

Continual improvement – is the recurring process of enhancing the Environmental Management System in order to achieve improvements in overall environmental performance consistent with the organisation’s environmental policy (ISO 14 001 Section 3.2)

Environment – surrounding in which an organisation operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interrelation (ISO 14 001 Section 3.5)

Environmental aspect – is the element of an organisation’s activities or products or services that can interact with the environment (ISO 14 001 Section 3.6)

Environmental impact – is any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organisation’s environmental aspects (ISO 14 001 Section 3.7)

Environmental management system – part of an organisation’s management system used to develop and implement its environmental policy and manage its environmental aspects (ISO 14 001 Section 3.8)

Note: A management system is a set of interrelated elements used to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives. A management system includes organisational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources.

Environmental objective – is the overall environmental goal, consistent with environmental policy, that an organisation sets itself to achieve (ISO 14 001 Section 3.9).

Environmental performance – is measurable results of an organisation’s management of its environmental aspects (ISO 14 001 Section 3.10).

Environmental management plan – a document that outlines the environmental objectives and targets, and other related information

Environmental policy – is the overall intention and direction of an organisation related to its environmental performance as formally expressed by top management (ISO 14 001 Section 3.11).

Note: The environmental policy provides a framework for action and for setting of environmental objectives and environmental targets.  

Environmental target – is a detailed performance requirement, applicable to the organisation or parts thereof, that arises from the environmental objectives and that needs to be set and met in order to achieve those objectives (ISO 14 001 Section 3.12).

Risk assessment – The overall process of using available information to predict how often hazards or specified events may occur (likelihood), and the magnitude of their consequences (adapted from AS/NZS 4360:2004).

Standards Australia 1996, ‘Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 14001: 1996 Environmental Management systems – specifications with guidance for use’ Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand, Sydney.