Environmental Management Systems
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a systematic approach to managing your organisation’s impacts on the environment. Having and following an EMS is voluntary, however organisations with an EMS have an explicit commitment to continual environmental improvement.
Setting up an EMS will provide your organisation with a framework through which its environmental performance can be controlled and improved.
- Is a mechanism for defining environmental responsibilities for all staff, helping them to understand the environmental impact of their activities and individual actions;
- Ensures that all operations have procedures that minimise their impacts;
- Records environmental performance against set targets;
- Can be audited;
- Will help you identify opportunities to reduce waste and thus reduce your operating costs; and
- When developed appropriately it will help identify future trends, enhance circular economy by eliminating wastes and the continual use of resources and define product life cycle impact.
To implement an effective EMS, you need to know your business and understand its impacts on the environment. By knowing how your business operates, you will be able to identify how to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve profits. Although many organisations have already made significant improvements in their environmental performance, an EMS will ensure that future improvements continue through ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the system. An EMS also ensures that environmental performance and other related issues are raised regularly with senior management, and that the momentum for making improvements is maintained.
The potential benefits of implementing an EMS can be:
- Increased profits
- Improved process control
- Improved sales and marketing
- Improved management
- Improved public relations
- Improved personnel and training
- Improved peace of mind
An effective EMS contains:
- An assessment of how your organisations activities, products, processes, and services might affect the environment;
- The development of an environmental policy;
- Development and implementation of an environmental improvement programme;
- Defined roles and responsibilities for all employees;
- A training and awareness programme;
- Written procedures to control activities with a significant environmental impact;
- A controlled system of records;
- Periodic auditing to ensure effective operation; and
- A formal review by senior management.
There are three approaches available to organisations wishing to implement a formal EMS, these are:
- The development of an organisation specific in-house EMS;
- Development of an EMS following the guidelines of the international standard ISO 14001 without pursuing formal ISO 14001 certification or EMAS registration; or
- Pursue formal ISO 14001 certification or EMAS registration.
All three of these approaches are voluntary but differ in their scope and approach. The choice would depend on what is right for your organisation. AVRIO has worked with numerous organisations to determine which system best fits their business and its operations and the subsequent development and implementation of this system thereafter.