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Apply ISO 14001 to Baking Cookies

How does ISO 14001 apply to a business? Let’s say you make cookies…

Whether it’s chocolate chip, sugar cookie, or garbage flavor, your customers will ultimately decide if your cookie is good. The standard tries to get you to improve your environmental performance while achieving consistent results and continually improve your business. Thus, if you have an environmentally friendly bakery operation where you can make a good cookie most of the time, this helps you make it all of the time. Controlling and improving processes will yield better results! 

Let’s look at this common recipe for making cookies and apply parts of the standard to it.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
BEAT butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in morsels.
DROP by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Let’s break down the (oversimplified) process of making cookies into each section of the ISO 14001:2015 requirements:

Section 4: Context of the organization

4.1 Determine internal and external issues:

  • Availability of ingredients
  • Grocery store hours
  • Allergies of persons who will eat the cookies
  • Experience and availability of Baker’s Assistant
  • Staying within budget
  • Kitchen space
  • Bakery hours / Business license

4.2 Determine relevant interested parties and their requirements:

  • Persons eating the cookies require they taste good.
  • Grocery store requires you pay for the ingredients.
  • Persons baking the cookies need instructions.
  • Persons picking up the ingredients need a grocery list.
  • Compliance-legal obligations relevant to the environment
  • Legal requirements relevant to food safety and inspection

4.3 Establish and document the scope (boundaries and applicability):

  • Baking chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies for sale to walk-in customers at the downtown bakery location. Only two types will be baked using the provided recipes.
  • Baking two batches of cookies, one for the kids and the other for the next-door neighbor. Only one type will be baked, chocolate chip, using the provided recipe.

4.4 Determine the bakery processes:

  • Include their inputs, outputs, sequence, interaction, methods of control, resources, responsibilities, risks and opportunities.
  • By documenting process information, such as in the table below, the bakery operations are identified, and provide the confidence that the activities are performed as planned.
  • Note: Processes are different than your standard operating procedures (SOPs). Procedures are the documented process and should state what the required inputs, outputs, sequence, interaction and responsibilities are for that specific process. ISO 14001:2015 only requires you to have procedures if they are necessary to support your operations. Typically, a complex process or one that has a risk of producing inconsistent results should be documented. Documenting your processes also helps with training and preventing the loss of organizational knowledge.

Section 5: Leadership

5.1 Leadership and commitment:

  • The Owner / Baker will ensure the buyers are satisfied with the taste of the cookies.
  • The Baker will take accountability for the entire cookie making process and ensure the kids and neighbors like the taste of the cookies.
  • The Baker will invest in resources as needed to provide fresh cookies.
  • The Baker will support the Assistant

5.2 Establish a environmental policy:

  • The Baker will strive to make gooey and delicious cookies by continually improving the ingredients and baking process based on the feedback from the persons eating the cookies.
  • The Baker will consider the prevention of pollution when establishing the environmental policy
  • The Baker will post a copy of the environmental in prominent spots in the bakery for customers to see and in the kitchen as a reminder for the Baker and the Assistant..

5.3 Assign responsibility and authority:

  • The Baker will make the cookies
  • The Assistant will buy the ingredients and assist the Baker
  • The Baker will look for opportunities to improve and will report on how the baking activities are going.

Section 6: Planning

6.1 Consider issues and requirements of interested parties and determine risks and opportunities:

  • Risk of sickness if raw ingredients are not thoroughly baked.
  • Risk of sickness if cookies are baked in unclean conditions (dirty or polluted kitchen and utensils)
  • Risk the customers go elsewhere if they don’t like the cookies or if they are not ready in time.
  • Opportunity to make the cookies smaller and have a larger quantity using the same amount of ingredients.
  • Identify the environmental aspects that can be controlled or influenced by the bakery
  • Determine and have available the compliance obligations that apply to the bakery operations, and plan and implement the actions to integrate them in your bakery operations.
  • Other risks and opportunities identified in table above.

6.2 Establish environmental objectives and how to achieve them:

  • Make consistently good cookies by following the recipe.
  • Deliver on time.
  • Make cookies gooier.
  • Ensure the customers, the kids, and the neighbor are satisfied with the cookies.
  • Ensure that large-special orders are delivered within five days.
  • When changes are made they need to be planned and carried out in a planned and organized way
  • To make cookies gooier, consider reducing the bake time.
  • Before the bake time is changed, the cookies will be taste-tested to ensure they are cooked through.

Section 7: Support

7.1 Determine and provide resources:

  • Is the Assistant trained on using the equipment (oven and mixer)?
  • Is there a cooling rack to place the cookies on after they are baked?
  • Is there ventilation in the kitchen in the event that the cookies burn?
  • Is there a clean and pollution-free display area in the bakery for the cookies?
  • Is the temperature and humidity in the bakery such that the cookies remain fresh?

7.2 Ensure person’s doing work are competent:

  • Does the Baker and Assistant have experience making cookies and/or can they follow a recipe?
  • To remain competent, do the Baker and Assistant keep abreast of the latest recipes and industry techniques?

7.3 Ensure person’s doing work are aware of:

  • The environmental policy, the environmental objectives, and that it is everyone’s job to protect the
  • Consider posting printed copies the environmental policy and objectives in the kitchen.
  • The implications of not meeting requirements for the cookies
  • Their contribution in achieving the benefit of improved performance.

7.4 Determine internal and external communication:

  • Who will tell the customers when the cookies are ready to eat?
  • How will you tell the customers the cookies are ready?
  • Who will bring the cookies to the customers?
  • Are notices posted in washrooms to remind people to wash their hands before returning to work?
  • Are matters related to legal compliance obligations communicated externally?

7.5 Determine, create, update and control documented information:

  • Documented information includes the recipe, grocery list, scope, environmental policy, objectives and any documentation that supports the processes listed in the table above.
  • The Baker updates everything as needed but will have to re-print and replace the old documents. The old documents have to be thrown away immediately, so they are not accidentally used.
  • All documents are updated and controlled to ensure consistency.
  • Documents are required to be available where and when they are needed

Section 8: Operation

8.1 Plan and control operations.

Determine requirements and establish criteria for acceptance of processes and products:

  • The cookies are required to taste good at time of delivery.
  • Taste a cookie after each batch is baked to ensure the cookies taste good.
  • If the date on the ingredients is past expiration, do not use.
  • Keep the process in above table up to date to give you confidence that the activities are being carried out as planned.
  • Control the suppliers of outsourced processes, products and services to make sure that cleaning materials such as dishwasher and laundry detergents do not contain phosphorous or other substances that can harm the environment.
  • Check the ingredients at the grocery store to ensure not expired before purchasing.
  • Purchase efficiently (coupons?) to stay on budget.
  • Keep grocery store receipts for one week.
  • Seek out and make use of suppliers who have registered quality systems such as ISO 9001.
  • Design and development does not apply as cookies are made following a recipe that someone else created.

8.2 Prepare for and respond to emergencies:

  • Provide the bakery personnel with information on potential emergency situations, such as what to do for a flood in the stock room, or a leak from the dishwasher.
  • Train the bakery personnel in first aid, such as how to handle a burn from the oven.
  • Clearly indicate the exits from the bakery in case an emergency evacuation is needed such as signs and arrows to the exits.
  • Conduct a yearly mock drill to simulate an emergency situation such as a fire in the kitchen
  • Maintain records that provide evidence that your emergency plan is carried out as planned.

Section 9: Performance evaluation

9.1 Determine what needs to be monitored and measured, what methods will be used and when you will analyze and evaluate the results:

  • The bakery operations need to be monitored as they are performed.
  • Check to see if the ingredient quantities are correct and if the oven temperature and bake time are as planned and make sure you meet the legal obligations.
  • Are the baking oven and the weigh-scale maintained and calibrated on a regular basis?
  • The satisfaction of the kids and neighbors needs to be monitored, ask them if the cookies taste good. The satisfaction of the walk-in customers is important, ask them to take and complete a short survey form.
  • The responses will be immediately analyzed and evaluated to determine if changes need to be made to a process or another recipe is to be used in the future.

9.2 Have an internal audit program:

  • Have an objective and impartial person audit your processes and documentation to ensure the Bakery activities are effectively implemented and maintained.
  • Have the results of the audit reported to the Owner / Baker and take prompt corrective action on shortcomings found.

9.3 Perform Management Reviews:

  • During planned intervals, have Leadership (the Baker and Assistant), get together to review issues, performance, customer satisfaction, if environmental objectives were met, audit results, external provider (grocery store) performance, if additional resources are needed and if there are opportunities for improvement.

Section 10: Improvement

10.1 Determine and select opportunities for improvement:

  • How can you make the cookies better, more consistent, etc.?
  • Look at each process for improvement opportunities.
  • Look at improving the cookies as well as addressing future environmental needs .

10.2 When a nonconformity occurs, react to it appropriately, determine and eliminate the cause and keep records:

  • If the cookies burned, was the temperature to high? Were they left in the oven too long?
  • Segregate the burnt cookies and throw away as soon as they have cooled.
  • Make a new batch of cookies to replace the burnt ones.
  • Document how many cookies burned, what was the cause and if a new batch was made to replace them.
  • Retain this documentation for review and to track any trends in burnt cookies.

10.3 Continually Improve:

  • Keep improving!
  • Consider the results of analysis and evaluation and the outputs of management review as part of the continual improvement initiative.


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