Environmental Management Systems – Your A – Z guide

Environmental Management Systems 

Environmental management has become a core issue for many sectors, including local government and a growing number of local authorities are recognising the benefits of implementing a robust and externally certified environmental management system (EMS).

A local authority can use an EMS to help reduce its environmental impacts, improve resource efficiency, reduce costs, and demonstrate that it is managing its environmental risks and liabilities responsibly.

It is more thorough than ad-hoc approaches such as recycling paper, using low energy light bulbs, or installing low-flush toilets because it puts systems in place to ensure that the council has a genuine and positive impact on the environment.

This can have major benefits at a strategic level and can help councils to develop an overall framework for delivering public services and programmes including initiatives on waste, water, energy, transport, and planning.

Government recommends that all types of organisations, including public sector bodies, should use a robust and credible EMS, which is externally certified to a national or international standard. It should be audited by an independent certifier accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). There are three recognised standards:

  • ISO 14001: The international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001 specifies the features and requirements necessary to identify, evaluate, manage and improve performance. To obtain a copy of the standard visit the British Standards Institution website.
  • EMAS: The Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a voluntary EU wide scheme, which requires organisations to produce a public statement, focuses on legislative compliance and includes ISO 14001. For more information, visit the EMAS website.
  • BS 8555: A new British Standard, BS 8555 allows phased implementation of an EMS leading to full certification to ISO 14001 or registration for EMAS. Breaking up ISO 14001 into specific stages makes it much easier for organisations with limited resources to put in place an EMS and also enables them to proceed at their own pace. It is primarily (but not exclusively) aimed at small and medium sized enterprises. The Acorn Inspection Scheme can provide accredited certification for each stage of BS 8555 and ensures that data has been independently validated and that the information they provided to stakeholders is both credible and reliable. The Acorn scheme can also be used very successfully in green procurement and can help manage supply chains more effectively. For full details see the IEMA website.
Last modified December 22, 2014 3:25:02 PM