Environmental Management Systems

Definition of a Environmental Management System (EMS)

'Environmental Management Systems are explicit sets of arrangements and processes designed to manage environmental issues and ensure that ( an ) organisations’ ( environmental ) performance goals and objectives are achieved.’ Bragg, S (1994)

Environmental Management Systems utilise the systematic management approach - Environmental Policy – Planning – Implementation – Checking and Corrective Action – Management Review which feeds back into the policy to restart the cycle. For the EMS to work it has to cover every part of the manufacturing process, from the instigation of ideas to the end of product life.  The company should be well prepared for any problems that may arise including normal, abnormal and emergency situations.

To implement the EMS the company needs to identify the following points;

To be effective an Environmental Management System will need to make the “culture” of the company more environmentally friendly; it will need to make the consideration of environmental aspects and impacts part of the overall quality system, part of everyday decisions.

By studying these points the organization will be able to use the appropriate tools to implement the Environmental Management System.

When an Environmental Management System is introduced it is based on an initial review of the current position of the company.  As part of the preliminary review, Life Cycle Assessment is a very useful tool in identifying environmental aspects.  Clean Technology has also part to play in the establishment of this baseline.  In implementing the Environmental Management System, the company will need to identify these points discussed earlier: interaction with the environment, what they want to do about that interaction and how they can do it. These are the aspects and impacts of their processes and they can use Environmental Impact Assessment, Life Cycle Assessment , Cost Benefit Analysis, Environmental Risk Assessment and Environmental Audit methodologies to identify objectives and targets. 

Putting plans into action, correcting deviations from the original plan and reviewing future directions to maintain continuous improvement would utilize Clean Technology, Environmental Impact Assessment, Energy Management and Environmental Audit methodologies. 

Energy Management can be seen as an EMS for energy only.  If an energy management plan is in place it is likely that most of the personnel will already be in place to implement an EMS.

By implementing a robust EMS the company will have had to use some of the methodologies from all of the environmental tools we have discussed.  By continuing to monitor and maintain the EMS the company will continue to improve their environmental performance and be seen to be contributing to sustainable development.

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Effective environmental management systems enhance your business, your reputation and your profit.
©2006 David Darlington
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