So, you have decided it is a good idea to develop an EMS—but where to begin? Let’s take a look at why an EMS might be helpful. and some different types of EMSs to help you with your choice.
How can an EMS be helpful?
At the most basic level, an EMS can help you ensure that the management practices at your facility conform to environmental regulations. However, the EMS structure also encourages facilities to prevent pollution through process changes, which may result in reducing regulatory burdens.
An EMS can also assist in analyzing your internal operations, engaging your staff in environmental issues, continually monitoring your progress, and increasing your knowledge about facility operations. All of these actions can also improve your business’s internal operations, achieve greater efficiencies, and create opportunities to reduce your facility’s environmental impacts by way of pollution prevention.
Most EMSs involve four core components:
- A written environmental policy,
- Environmental performance indicators/goals,
- An environmental training program in place for employees, and
- Internal environmental audits.
Join us for the Environmental Management Systems Under New ISO 14001 webinar on September 9 to learn the ISO 14001 process as it relates to your organization. Register now!
Three types of EMSs
There a three types of voluntary EMSs:
- Self-designed, incomplete EMSs. Many companies in the United States implement EMSs that are tailored to the individual facility’s requirements and problems. Some adopt only a portion of the four EMS components.
- Certified EMSs. To demonstrate conformance with the ISO 14001 standard, you can choose to implement and certify your EMS using third-party organizations. The auditor performs an independent validation that the EMS conforms to the ISO 14001 standard and that it is “in place, complete, and sufficient.”
- Noncertified (self-certified) EMSs (ISO 14001). Variations exist on how noncertified EMSs are constructed. However, noncertified EMSs are based on the four core components. In this case, you can choose to self-declare that your EMS is in compliance with the ISO standard. This allows you to demonstrate and communicate your environmental commitment without incurring the additional cost of certification.
Environmental Management Systems Under New ISO 14001: How to Ensure Compliance
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the organization that oversees ISO 14001, recently released the “Committee Draft” changes to ISO 14001 that will occur this year. Learn more.
If you want to play in Europe
If your facility wants to be involved in the European Union (EU) marketplace either as seller or a supplier to a seller, you should be familiar with the EU-version of an EMS.
The European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is another example of an EMS. The main difference between ISO 14001 and EMAS is that in order to register a facility or company under EMAS, an annual environmental performance statement must be made available to the public. EMAS also requires demonstration of actual gains in environmental performance. The European Commission has published information about modifying an ISO 14001-certified program to be compliant with EMAS.
ISO 14001 revision
ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems is under review, with the final updated version expected by September 2015.