Environmental Management Systems – Your A – Z guide

New to Environmental Management Systems?

What is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework for managing an organisation's significant impacts on the environment

What are my environmental impacts?

These vary between organisations but typically will include business waste, emissions, energy use, transport and consumption of materials. Climate change factors are increasingly prominent. Wider factors can also be included, such as impacts on wildlife (biodiversity). In undertaking an EMS you will identify the significant effects relevant to your business.

Why does my organisation need an EMS?

  • An EMS will help your organisation to manage and improve its environmental performance
  • It will help your business comply with environmental laws and regulations.
  • It can generate financial savings through efficient practices (e.g. cutting waste and energy use)
  • It will improve the standing and reputation of your business with staff, client companies, partner organisations and wider stakeholders

Will all organisations benefit from an EMS or just large companies?

All businesses can benefit from a systematic approach to ensure their resource use is well managed, to achieve associated financial savings through efficiency measures and to ensure that the business is not breaching current or developing environmental legislation. There are many small organisations that have implemented an EMS and gained significant business benefits.  

Will we have to start from scratch?

There is no need to "start over". You should look to build environmental management requirements into your exiting management structure, rather than developing your EMS as a stand alone system.

How much will it cost

An effective EMS should prove to be at least cost neutral and will often lead through to sustained savings via environmental efficiencies in waste and energy management. 

How do I make a start?

The left hand menu pages on this web site provide introductory information to help you; understand the basics, introduce the stages and process for planning your EMS, and outline the main schemes and standards that are available.

Support for organisations is also available from a number of sources - see the links and downloads section of this web site