Benefits of an EMS and what is involved?
Setting up and running an environmental management system (EMS) can provide significant benefits across a number of areas of your business.
Running an effective EMS will help you with:
- improving resource efficiency and reducing unnecessary expenditure - you will have policies and procedures in place that help you manage waste and resources more effectively. This can reduce your associated raw material and operating costs
- better regulatory compliance - an EMS will help you become legally compliant and will reduce the risk of fines and adverse publicity
- lighter regulation - even if an EMS is not a regulatory requirement, by showing your commitment to environmental management, you may benefit through less frequent site visits or reduced fees from environmental regulators;
- sales and marketing - large businesses and government departments may only deal with businesses that have an EMS. It can be vital for successful tendering and meeting supply chain requirements;
- improving business reputation - increased awareness and control of your environmental impacts can improve public relations. Running an EMS will also help you prove your business' green credentials
- finance - you may find it easier to raise investment from banks and other financial institutions. Investors are increasingly keen to see businesses controlling their environmental impact and showing an awareness of the risks and opportunities associated with environmental issues.
Many organisations choose to produce an environmental report to highlight their environmental achievements to interested stakeholders. An EMS can provide a valuable mechanism to produce and collect data for such a report.
For further details about Environmental Reports see the page in this guideline: Environmental reports.
What does an effective EMS involve?
Having an EMS demonstrates that your business has measures in place to prevent pollution and is taking steps to continually improve environmental performance.
To achieve these aims, an effective EMS should involve the following:
- An initial assessment of how your organisation's activities, products and services might affect the environment
- Making sure you comply with all relevant environmental regulations
- Gathering data e.g. energy use, waste, water, raw materials
- Developing and communicating an environmental policy
- Procedures for controlling activities with significant environmental impacts, eg oil storage
- Identifying risks and opportunities associated with environmental issues.
- Setting targets and measuring progress
- Defining roles and responsibilities for all employees
- Training and awareness
- Periodic internal auditing
- Management Review and commitment from Leadership
Resource Efficient Scotland and WRAP have both produced user-friendly guides outlining the main elements of a good EMS.
They include the key considerations in deciding whether an EMS is right for you and a step-by-step guide on how to develop your own system.
They also provide useful templates to help you complete each stage of the process.
WRAP (Northern Ireland): Your Guide to Environmental Management Systems
Resource Efficient Scotland: Implement an Environmental Management System