ISO 14001 specifies requirements for an environmental management system to enable an organization to develop and implement a policy and objective which take into account legal requirements and other requirements to which the organization subscribes, and information about significant environmental aspects.
This standard naturally incorporates requirements for commitment to pollution prevention, compliance with regulatory and customer requirement including green procurements, but perhaps more importantly it recognizes positive impact on the environment and company performance that may be achieve continual improvement.
ISO 14001 is applicable to any organization wishes to establish, implement, maintain and improve an environmental management system, assure itself of conformity with its stated environmental policy, demonstrate conformity with this international standard by making self determintaion and self declaration or seeking confirmation of its conformance by parties having an interest in the organization, such customer or seeking confirmation of its self declaration by party external to the organization or seeking certification/registration or its environmental management system by an external organisation.
ISO 14001 does not specify levels of environmental performance. If it specified levels of environmental performance, they would have to be specific to each business activity and this would require a specific EMS standard for each business. That is not the intention. ISO has many other standards dealing with specific environmental issues. The intention of ISO 14001 is to provide a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organizations environmental policy, plans and actions. ISO 14001 gives the generic requirements for an environmental management system. The underlying philosophy is that whatever the organizations activity, the requirements of an effective EMS are the same. This has the effect of establishing a common reference for communicating about environmental management issues between organizations and their customers, regulators, the public and other stakeholders.