Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Implementing an EMS – getting started

Environmental management - getting started

Before getting started:

If you feel that an EMS would benefit your business, you need to follow these steps.

Gain commitment from top management

This is a vital step before starting to design your EMS.

Although EMS will be integrated and adopted throughout the organisation, its effectiveness will rely on the full commitment of senior staff to its aims and objectives. The EMS should not be a standalone system but embedded into key business processes and decisions. It is important to actively involve senior management to identify and address the risk and opportunities associated with the EMS. Top Management can also authorise the necessary resources needed such as staff time and any initial budget.

There are a number of benefits you can consider in order to persuade management of the benefits of running an EMS, including cost reduction, compliance with environmental legislation, better management of risk and significant marketing benefits see: What are the Benefits of an EMS

Roles and responsibilities

You should make sure that one individual is given the role of Environmental Manager, to co-ordinate and communicate all elements of the EMS.

It is equally important that responsibility for the EMS is not left to one individual. The roles necessary to implement the EMS should be shared across all levels and different departments within the organisation. Many businesses start a green team to achieve this goal.

There are a number of benefits you can consider in order to persuade management of the benefits of running an EMS, including cost reduction, compliance with environmental legislation, better management of risk and significant marketing benefits see: What are the Benefits of an EMS?

Define the scope

You can implement an EMS across the whole organisation, or just for one particular site or facility. However, it is important that you determine the scope upfront so that it is clear what you are measuring and the aspects and impacts that you need to manage.

Once you are confident that your organisation is committed to developing an EMS and you have the necessary resources, you will need to work your way through the stage outlined below. Some companies employ a specialist to help develop the EMS but even if you do use a consultant, key staff should be involved from the outset so that they can confidently maintain the system once the consultant leaves.

Stage 1 Identifying significant environmental aspects Which of your activities could cause environmental harm materials, energy use, transport etc NetRegs: Business Sectors Guidance
Template* (see below the table)
Stage 2 Identifying legislation and evaluating compliance Make sure you are aware of all your legal responsibilities. NetRegs Environmental topics
Environmental legislation on NetRegs
Stage 3 Environmental Policy A clear statement that gives an overview of your intentions Template*
Stage 4 Setting and Tracking Objectives and Targets Clear, achievable targets provide a focus. Template*
Stage 5 Monitoring and Measuring & Data Collection Essential to know what is being used, how much waste generated in order to set targets Template*
Stage 6 Control of operations and emergency preparedness and response Planning for any incidents can reduce the damage and clean-up costs NetRegs: Pollution incident response planning
Stage 7 Checking and Auditing Regularly assess progress towards targets.  
Stage 8 Management Review An overview of the process can help identify the costs/benefits of the system.


Further Information

Resource Efficient Scotland and WRAP have both produced user friendly guides outlining the main elements of a good EMS and the key considerations in deciding whether an EMS is right for you.

*If you choose to develop your own system you can find useful templates, relating to the items in the table above, from:

WRAP (Northern Ireland): Your Guide to Environmental Management Systems

Resource Efficient Scotland: Implement an Environmental Management System

Back to Environmental Management Systems home page

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