What is Environmental Management System (EMS) ?
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a systematic approach to managing an organization’s interactions with the environment. It is a framework for organizing an organization’s efforts to minimize its impact on the environment and comply with relevant environmental regulations and standards. The goal of an EMS is to ensure that an organization’s operations are environmentally sustainable, by continuously improving its environmental performance and reducing its environmental footprint.
An EMS typically includes the following components:
- Policy: A clear and concise statement of the organization’s environmental commitment, goals, and objectives.
- Planning: The identification of environmental aspects and impacts, as well as the development of plans to manage them.
- Implementation and Operation: The development and implementation of procedures and processes to manage the organization’s environmental aspects and impacts.
- Checking and Corrective Action: The monitoring of the organization’s environmental performance and the identification of areas for improvement.
- Management Review: The regular review of the EMS by top management to ensure its effectiveness and the identification of opportunities for improvement.
Why we should have Environmental Management Systems?
An EMS can be used by organizations of all sizes and across all sectors, and it can be integrated with other management systems, such as quality management and health and safety management systems.
There are several reasons why organizations should have an Environmental Management System (EMS):
- Compliance: An EMS can help an organization comply with relevant environmental regulations and standards, reducing the risk of legal non-compliance and associated penalties.
- Environmental Performance: An EMS provides a structured approach to managing an organization’s environmental impact, allowing it to continuously improve its environmental performance and reduce its environmental footprint.
- Stakeholder Expectations: Customers, employees, and other stakeholders are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of organizations and expect them to act in an environmentally responsible manner. An EMS demonstrates an organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability and helps to build trust with stakeholders.
- Business Benefits: Implementing an EMS can lead to cost savings by reducing waste and energy consumption, improving resource efficiency, and reducing the risk of environmental incidents. It can also help an organization to identify new business opportunities and enhance its reputation.
- Continuous Improvement: An EMS provides a systematic approach to continuously improving an organization’s environmental performance, ensuring that it remains up-to-date with the latest environmental best practices and trends.
In short, an EMS provides a framework for organizations to manage their environmental impact and improve their environmental performance, which can result in compliance, reduced environmental impact, increased stakeholder trust, business benefits, and continuous improvement.
When Environmental Management System was developed?
The concept of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) was first developed in the 1990s as a way for organizations to manage their environmental impact and comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations.
One of the early pioneers of EMS was the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which developed the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems in 1996. The standard provides a framework for organizations to establish, implement, maintain, and improve their EMS, and it has since been adopted by thousands of organizations around the world.
Since the development of ISO 14001, many other organizations and initiatives have emerged to promote the use of EMS and provide guidance and support to organizations looking to implement an EMS. These include government agencies, environmental organizations, industry associations, and other stakeholders, who have recognized the importance of effective environmental management for sustainable development and the protection of the environment.
Where Environmental Management System are applicable?
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are applicable to organizations of all sizes and across all sectors, including manufacturing, service, construction, agriculture, and more. An EMS can be used by any type of organization that has an impact on the environment, regardless of its size, location, or type of operations.
Examples of organizations that can benefit from implementing an EMS include:
- Manufacturing companies: Manufacturing companies can use an EMS to minimize the environmental impact of their production processes, reduce waste and energy consumption, and improve their resource efficiency.
- Service industries: Service industries can use an EMS to reduce their environmental impact by managing their waste, energy use, and other environmental aspects of their operations.
- Construction companies: Construction companies can use an EMS to manage the environmental impact of their construction activities, including the management of waste, energy use, and other environmental aspects.
- Agricultural businesses: Agricultural businesses can use an EMS to minimize their impact on the environment by managing their use of chemicals, water, and other resources.
- Government agencies: Government agencies can use an EMS to manage their environmental impact and ensure that they comply with environmental regulations and standards.
In short, any organization that has an impact on the environment can benefit from implementing an EMS, regardless of its size, location, or type of operations. The key is to identify the environmental aspects and impacts of the organization’s operations and develop a systematic approach to managing them.
Who operates Environmental Management Systems?
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are typically operated by organizations themselves, with the support and involvement of various internal and external stakeholders.
Internal stakeholders who may be involved in the operation of an EMS include:
- Management: Top management is responsible for establishing the EMS, setting environmental policy and objectives, and providing the resources and support necessary for its implementation and operation.
- Environmental management representative: The environmental management representative is responsible for coordinating the EMS within the organization and ensuring that it is effectively implemented and maintained.
- Employees: All employees play a role in the operation of an EMS by carrying out their day-to-day activities in an environmentally responsible manner and reporting any environmental incidents or concerns.
How to effectively apply Environmental Management Systems?
In short, to effectively apply an EMS, organizations need to understand their context, conduct an environmental review, establish their environmental policy, develop and implement their EMS, operate it, and continuously improve it. This structured approach to environmental management can help organizations to reduce their environmental impact, comply with environmental regulations and standards, and continuously improve their environmental performance.