Environmental Management Systems – Your A – Z guide

Planning your EMS

There are a number of steps that any organisation may consider when investigating options and commencing the development of an EMS:

  1. Commence with a review of existing EMS ‘type’ structures and commitments within the organisation (such as any existing Environmental policy commitment for the organisation, documented procedures and responsibilities etc).
  2. Investigate potential trends that effect the organisation (or support the case for an EMS). These may include;
    • Trends and developments in legislation (increasing pressure for environmental legislation at EU, national and regional level)
    • Fiscal trends on businesses such as the increasing financial implications of climate change and landfill tax legislation
    • Trends in commerce and trade such as increasing requirements to demonstrate positive environmental management in commercial contracts with clients (supply chain pressures)
    • Increasing public concern with the environment (customer level)
  3. Consider the main interests and stakeholders in the process (e.g. shareholders, customers, clients, regulators, and the public)
  4. Review the main options available for EMS certification and consider their suitability for your organisation. Factors may include;
    • The benefits of branding and public profile offered by EMAS (e.g. through its logo and its public ‘reporting requirement’).
    • Sector specific or supply chain factors that may encourage consideration of ISO 14001
    • The benefits of a phased approach from BS 8555 / Acorn - especially suitable for some smaller and medium sized businesses (and allows for progression on to either of the above schemes - or both)
  5. Secure appropriate commitment at senior management level for EMS development (often this is an element within Phase 1 of the EMS but in practice there is usually an earlier commitment / agreement in principle made)