Last reviewed 19 October 2011

ISO 14006: 2011 is not intended to be an ecodesign manual, but contains guidance on how ecodesign activities are carried out in the context of an environmental management system (EMS). In this article, Martin Charter and Vic Clements describe how the standard reinforces the product focus and gives guidance on areas such as environmental assessment and design management, which are lacking in ISO 14001.

Background to new standard

ISO 14006: 2011 Environmental Management Systems — Guidelines for Incorporating Ecodesign was published on 8 July 2011. It is a non-certifiable guidance standard, intended to assist organisations in implementing ecodesign activities within an EMS primarily but not exclusively conforming to ISO 14001: 2004. It is not intended to be an ecodesign manual, but contains guidance on how ecodesign activities are carried out in the context of an EMS.

Trends in market expectations, supply chain pressure and also legislation such as the recently adopted Energy-related Products Directive (ERP) 2009/125/EC are driving more organisations to address ecodesign of their products either without or within an EMS.

The standard identifies the following benefits that can result from ecodesign.

  • Economic benefits, eg through increased competitiveness, cost reduction and attraction of financing and investments.

  • Promotion of innovation and creativity, and identification of new business models.

  • Reduction in liability through reduced environmental impacts and improved product knowledge.

  • Improved public image (both for the organisation and/or the brand).

  • Enhancement of employee motivation.

Most of a product's environmental impact is fixed by its design, so it is essential to integrate the principles and practice of ecodesign as early as possible in the product realisation process. Successful ecodesign requires environmental performance improvements to be anticipated, recognised and recorded as part of overall corporate policy, goals, objectives and targets, and then implemented through changes to critical operational and planning activities. Unfortunately, ISO 14001 does not include the elements of a design and management or business planning process, offering little help once significant environmental aspects may have been identified.

Reasons for creating ISO 14006

While many organisations already address the environmental impacts of their business processes through an EMS such as ISO 14001 or EMAS, they struggle to satisfactorily address the impacts of their products and services through this route. Although ISO 14001 Clause 4.3.1 requires the environmental impacts and significant aspects of an organisation's products and services that can be controlled or influenced to be identified, experience has shown that most EMSs tend to be site focused and there is much scope for interpretation of the extent to which life-cycle product aspects other than those from manufacturing, are significant or can be controlled or influenced upstream and downstream and should therefore be included in the scope of the EMS.

Many organisations only consider product impacts in the manufacturing stage, thus neglecting to take a life-cycle perspective, which is the cornerstone of ecodesign. Research in Sweden also showed a difference of opinion between auditors as to the extent to which product aspects should be considered significant and included. However, despite this, ISO 14001 certification bodies are increasingly requiring organisations to show how they are addressing ecodesign and product stewardship in their ISO 14001 environmental management systems.

Example of the need to provide evidence of ecodesign procedures to obtain EMS certification

The Centre for Sustainable Design was called to help introduce ecodesign to a medium-sized medical device company. When applying for ISO 14001 certification at stage 1, the manufacturing company was prompted by the auditor to show how their product design process addressed environmental aspects. Partly through applying ecodesign training and resources provided by the centre, they were successful at stage 2 in showing that the environmental aspects of product design activities were now addressed within the scope of the EMS. “The auditor was very complimentary about the presentation to the engineers and the ecodesign checklist.”

Due to legislative and commercial pressures, more and more organisations are introducing ecodesign, and many are linking this to their EMS using a variety of customised approaches. Examples of these can be seen below.

Example 1

Sagemcom is a French high-technology group with an international dimension, manufacturing broadband, telecom, energy and document management products, with a presence in more than 40 countries. In addition to controlling the site aspects, the research and development site obtained ISO 14001:2004 certification for its ecodesign approach to equipment. “The aim of our research teams is to reduce environmental impact, by working on all aspects of the product life cycle, and particularly raw materials and the consumption of energy during the use phase”

Example 2

EURO SEATING, headquartered in Spain with a presence in over 80 countries, obtained ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification in relation to its design, development and manufacture of seating for concert halls, cinemas, theatres, conference halls and sports facilities using the Spanish standard UNE 150301: 2003. The company “firmly believes in the continuous improvement of our products and processes” such that “the whole process of design and development has taken into consideration the environmental impact of the product, in such a way that all the products designed incorporate environmental improvement.”

Example 3

Lucent Technologies wireless product business unit, Mobility Solutions, pioneered a “product-based environmental management system” (PBEMS) to formally address the life-cycle impacts of wireless hardware products. “The success of this approach can be attributed to the integration of ecodesign with traditional hardware product realisation processes. Through the PBEMS, business and environmental processes are simultaneously utilised to manage significant product aspects and to incorporate sustainability principles during product design. Mobility Solutions PBEMS has achieved ISO 14001 certification.”

Example 4

Jaguar Land Rover include Life Cycle Assessment for all major new models. “The LCA fits into our adoption of wider standards such as ISO 14001, which have an impact on the entire organisation. There has been so much focus on reducing the tailpipe CO2 emissions from cars that other life-cycle aspects, including design, production and disposal, have arguably been neglected. The LCA allows us to look at these factors when considering the environmental impact of a new model.”

[Mark Stanton in Professional Engineering Magazine, September 2011, p.8]

ISO 14001 does not provide a management process for design and development, which is a major weakness from an ecodesign standpoint. In addition, the clauses of ISO 14001: 2004 that are relevant to ecodesign (see Table 2) do not provide specific guidance on how to satisfy the requirements of the standard in regard to products. Before ISO 14006, companies had to develop their own ecodesign management system to integrate into their EMS, implement it separately, or avoid ecodesign altogether.

In order to carry out ecodesign in a systematic and managed way within an EMS, organisations need to have knowledge, competence and procedural structure to effectively carry out four key activities within the three major functional domains of environmental assessment, design processes and management systems.

These key activities are as follows.

  1. Assessment of the life-cycle environmental impacts of the products and their related product aspects.

  2. Identification of appropriate design measures that reduce the adverse effects of these impacts.

  3. Management of the product design and development activity that implements these design measures.

  4. Fitting the ecodesign activities and the management of them within an EMS.

Any EMS intended to cover the ecodesign process must provide for these activities. ISO 14006 provides the necessary additional information to ISO 14001 to ensure they are covered. The following section describes how this is achieved.

Relationship of ISO 14006 to other standards

The existing standards that were used to inform this guidance standard and their relevance to domains of knowledge and competency can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1 — Standards used in the development of ISO 14006


Knowledge and Competency Domains

ISO 14001: 2004 Environmental Management Systems — Requirements with Guidance for Use

Links management of an organisation's processes with environmental impacts, but does not include product design and development management processes

ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management Systems — Requirements

Covers the design and development management process but is not related to the environmental impacts of products or processes

ISO/TR 14062: 2002 Environmental Management — Integrating Environmental Aspects into Product Design and Development

Assists incorporation of the assessment of environmental aspects and impacts into the product design and development process but does not relate to any EMS

BS EN 62430: 2009 Environmentally Conscious Design for Electrical and Electronic Products

Addresses environmental product assessment within a design and development process, but does not relate this to an EMS (Although intended for electrical products, it contains basic generic ecodesign principles)

Individually, these standards do not fully cover the range of activities that are involved when implementing ecodesign within an environmental and business management framework such as that provided by ISO 14001: 2004.

Figure 1, taken from ISO 14006, shows the relationship between that standard, the other standards and the functional domains of knowledge and competency required.

Figure 1. Relationship between the standards and the functional domains of knowledge and competency; design, environmental assessment and management systems

ISO 14006 incorporates the necessary information from these other standards so that the managers of an EMS such as ISO 14001 can put in place appropriate processes and procedures to implement structured and managed ecodesign. Table 2 shows the clauses in ISO 14006 that contain guidance covering the specific ecodesign activities required within an EMS and the source standards used.

Table 2 — ISO 14006 clauses that cover specific ecodesign activities/knowledge/competency



1. Assessment of the life cycle environmental impacts of the products and their related product aspects

Sub-clauses 5.3.1, 6.2 and 6.4 (derived from ISO 14001: 2004 and BS EN 62430: 2009)

2. Identification of appropriate design measures that reduce the adverse effects of these impacts

Sub-clauses 5.3.2 , 5.3.3, (derived from ISO 14001: 2004)

3. Management of the product design and development activity that implements these design measures

Sub-clauses to and 6.3 (derived from ISO 9001: 2008 and ISO/TR 14062: 2002)

4. Fitting the ecodesign activities and the management of them within an EMS

All clauses in combination

The structure and contents of ISO 14006

The standard contains an introduction, six major clauses and two annexes.

The first three clauses contain the scope, normative references and terms and definitions.

The scope explains that the standard is intended to be applicable to all organisations, regardless of type, size and product. Although aimed primarily at organisations that have ISO 14001: 2004, and/or QMS ISO 9001, it is also of value for other organisations that have no formalised EMS/QMS but who seek to reduce the adverse environmental impacts of their products. The standard applies to those product-related environmental aspects that the organisation can control and influence. ISO 14006 is not an ecodesign manual, although it does describe the ecodesign process. Clauses 4, 5, and 6 and the two annexes A and B provide the guidance on implementing ecodesign within the EMS.

Clause 4 — Role of top management in ecodesign

Clause 4 explains the potential benefits of ecodesign and lists the tasks that top management must carry out in order to have a successful ecodesign implementation. The clause splits these tasks into those associated with setting the strategic direction of the organisation and those associated with management of the internal processes required to achieve the environmental performance goals for the product.

Clause 4 is supported by Annex A, which provides more detailed information on the strategic issues and the role of top management in ecodesign, covering:

  • drivers and enablers of ecodesign

  • strategic planning

  • integration of ecodesign into operations

  • setting overall goals for environmental performance

  • stimulating innovation and new business development

  • value creation

  • management of activities required to achieve environmental goals; subclauses include implementation of ecodesign strategy, motivating the supply chain, communications, review of progress and strategy.

These sub-clauses stress the importance of including ecodesign in the corporate planning strategy and of setting achievable environmental performance goals. They remind us that ecodesign can produce a better value product and stimulate design and business innovation.

Annex A.8.2, emphasises that successful ecodesign is multidisciplinary and requires the involvement of a whole range of disciplines and functions across the organisation, including production, engineering, marketing, environment, quality, purchasing and service. In A.8.3, tasks are suggested that will assist in motivating and managing the supply chain in support of an organisation's ecodesign objectives and targets including training suppliers and involving them in the design process. This is crucial because a significant proportion of design influence resides both upstream and downstream in the supply chain.

Clause 5 — Guidelines for incorporating ecodesign into an EMS

Clause 5 provides detailed guidance on incorporating and managing ecodesign activities within the structure of ISO 14001: 2004. The clauses and sub-clauses of ISO 14001: 2004 that relate to ecodesign and the corresponding clauses and sub-clauses of ISO 14006: 2011 can be seen in Table 3.

For every other ISO 14001 clause relevant to ecodesign, guidance is given to help ensure that product related issues are included.

Table 3 — Clauses and sub-clauses of ISO 14001:2004 with guidance in ISO 14006:2011

Clauses and sub-clauses of ISO 14001:2004

Clauses and sub-clauses of ISO 14006:2011

4.1 General requirements


4.2 Environmental policy


4.3.1 Environmental aspects


4.3.2 Legal and other requirements


4.3.3 Objectives, targets and programmes


4.4.1 Resources, roles, responsibility and authority


4.4.2 Competence, training and awareness


4.4.3 Communication


4.4.4 Documentation

5.4.4 No additional guidance

4.4.5 Control of documents

5.4.5 No additional guidance

4.4.6 Operational control

5.4.6 Sub-clauses 7.3.1 to 7.3.7 of ISO 9001:2008 added

4.4.7 Emergency preparedness and response

4.4.7 Not relevant to ecodesign

4.5.1 Monitoring and measurement


4.5.2 Evaluation of Compliance


4.5.3 Nonconformity, corrective and preventative action

5.5.3 No additional guidance

4.5.4 Control of records

5.5.4 No additional guidance

4.5.5 Internal audit

5.5.5 No additional guidance

4.6 — Management review


Special focus was on the following ecodesign specific activities, as discussed above.

Assessment of the life cycle environmental impacts of the products and their related product aspects

This activity is required by Clause 4.3.1 of ISO 14001: 2004. ISO 14006 reinforces this requirement in sub-clauses 5.3.1. (1) and 6.4 by stating that this process should include the organisation's products. An organisation can choose the method or tool used to assess and identify the environmental aspects, but refers to the LCA methods available in ISO 14040:2006 Environmental Management — Life Cycle Assessment — Principles and Framework and other standards in the ISO 14040 — 49 series.

Clause 6 gives more detailed guidance on issues such as life-cycle principles and environmental assessment.

Identification of appropriate design measures that reduce the adverse effects of these impacts

Once significant environmental aspects of the product have been identified, then design measures to reduce their impact must be proposed and considered within the total design context of the product. For both new designs and redesigns, these proposed measures must be evaluated in terms of their compatibility with other design requirements such as functionality, regulatory compliance and marketability. Appropriate design measures are those that achieve the environmental objectives but must be feasible, desirable and manageable within the overall design process. Sub-clauses 5.3.2, 5.3.3 and ensure that design inputs include environmental aspects and reflected in design objectives.

Management of the product design and development activity that implements these design measures

Having decided on the measures, they must then be implemented. ISO 14001 does not cover the design and development process. To surmount this problem, ISO 14006 integrates the design management process of ISO 9001: 2008 — sub-clause 7.3 and the design activity flow in ISO/TR 14062: 2002 into sub-clause 5.4.6 — Operational control. This is illustrated in Figure 2 (taken from Annex B of ISO 14006) and shows how the design management process is consistent with the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process.

Figure 2. Interrelationship between Clause 5 in ISO 14006 and other documents: ISO 14001:2004, ISO 9001:2008 and ISO/TR 14062:2002

Clause 6 — Ecodesign activities in product design and development

Clause 6 explains the specific ecodesign activities that need to be addressed in the design and development process, based on BS EN 62430: 2009. It gives further information on the principles of life-cycle thinking but allows an organisation to choose whether to use LCA software analysis or other methods for determining environmental assessment. It describes the sequence of activities that need to be carried out in ecodesign and stresses the importance of balancing environmental design requirements with other drivers, such as function, technical requirements, quality, performance, business risks and economic aspects. This clause also stresses the importance of considering the value chain when seeking to meet environmental objectives and gives guidance on the ways to communicate effectively in the value chain.

Annex B shows how ISO 14006 correlates to other management system standards, clause by clause.


Organisations that incorporate ecodesign can realise benefits in cost reduction, improved stakeholder and supply chain relationships, improved image, increased employee motivation and stimulated product/business innovation, as well as benefiting the environment. Many organisations see the ecodesign of their products and services as a strategic issue, affecting the longer term sustainability of their business. An EMS such as ISO 14001: 2004 can help manage and reduce an organisation's environmental impacts, but offers little by way of guidance on the ecodesign of products and services. ISO 14006: 2011 addresses this problem by bringing together the appropriate parts of other standards to supplement and incorporate ecodesign related aspects of ISO 14001:2004. The new ISO 14006 ecodesign standard will be an invaluable tool for design and EMS managers, as it contains all the relevant information needed for a successful implementation in one document.

Written by Martin Charter, Director and Vic Clements (MIEMA, CEnv), Senior Associate at The Centre for Sustainable Design, UCA Farnham: Convener and UK expert respectively to the ISO 14006 working group TC207/SC1 WG4.

The Centre for Sustainable Design is an international centre of excellence that facilitates research and training on ecodesign and sustainability in product and service development. This is achieved through training, workshops, conferences, research, consultancy, publications, and the internet. The Centre offers a customised training programme related to ISO 14006.

Further information

  • For all international standards, see the ISO website.

  • For British standards, go to BSI.