What is an environmental management system?
An environmental management system (EMS) is a structured system designed to help organisations manage their environmental impacts and improve environmental performance caused by their products, services and activities.
An environmental management system provides structure to environmental management and covers areas such as training, record management, inspections, objectives and policies.
Implementation of a system requires the following steps to be completed:
The development of an environmental policy that reflects the organisation's environmental commitments;
The appointment of a person(s) responsible for its coordination;
The identification of how the organisation can interact with the environment and its actual and potential environmental impacts;
The identification of legal and other requirements relevant to its environmental aspects;
The establishment of environmental objectives and targets, and the programs in which to achieve them;
The monitoring and measurement of the progress to achieve its environmental objectives and targets;
Reviewing the system and environmental performance; and
The continuous improvement of the the organisation's environmental performance.
What are the benefits of developing and implementing an effective environmental management system?
By developing an environmental management system organisations identify environmental risks and manage these risks accordingly.
There are many ways that organisations benefit such as:
Promoting a positive environmental image with customers, and increasing demand for products and services;
Lowering business costs through reduced resource consumption and waste production;
Improving environmental performance;
Achieving environmental commitments and environmental policy requirements;
Meeting environmental legal requirements;
Committing to social responsibilities; and
Retaining environmental knowledge.
ISO 14001 environmental management systems are the most recognised systems. By choosing ISO 14001 organisations can be easily recognised for their environmental management efforts.
Should environmental management systems be developed by staff or should it be outsourced?
Organisations need to know whether they have the skills and resources to develop an effective and productive system internally or whether they should outsource its development.
If the answer is to outsource its development the experience and qualifications of the Consultant should be assessed. Engaging a consultant that specialises in environmental risk management and environmental management system development as well as having adequate qualifications and experience could be considered.
Can an environmental management system assist with legal compliance?
Identifying environmental aspects and impacts and then reviewing legal requirements should be completed when developing an environmental management system. Material, such as inspection checklists and procedures, to assess and manage legal compliance should be developed. An effective environmental management system should therefore assist organisations with meeting their legal requirements.
What is an ISO 14001 environmental management system?