This article gives you a brief introduction of the types of environmental management systems and lets you understand the one appropriate for your business.

The need for environmental management in businesses arises due to two reasons. The first is to protect the environment and its natural resources from harmful impacts of the manufacturing wastes or by-products, and the second is to prevent the company from costly environmental risks, noncompliance fines or lawsuits. In this article, you are going to find the importance of environmental management systems (EMS) that helps businesses to serve these two specific needs. But before that, let us tell you what an EMS is and how it works.

An EMS is a definite framework that allows businesses to monitor the effects of their operations, production to distribution, on the environment and eventually control them. Implementation of an EMS in your organisation thereby indicates your invariable commitment to minimising environmental impacts and compliance with the prevailing regulations. Developing and implementing an EMS seems intimidating initially because it should be able to address your widespread processes, resources, and day-to-day tasks to control any impacts. However, if you know the fundamentals of the EMS right, the process of implementation becomes easier.

Major Types of Environmental Management Systems

There are mainly two types of EMS and you need to decide the appropriate one according to your environmental needs, type of business, and budget.

In-House System

This is especially suitable for small enterprises which have fewer operations and comparatively fewer impacts on the environment. They can establish their own custom EMS, based on the key principles of environmental impact management. Naturally, the effectiveness of such in-house management system depends on well you design it, covering all your environmental issues, including waste treatment and resources optimisation. No doubt, an in-house system is highly competent for improving your environmental performance because it is specifically tailored to your objectives and concerns. However, this system is not appropriate if your company deals with products or services which need environmentally aware consumption, or you have specific governmental regulations to comply with.

Accredited System

Mostly, businesses go for the accredited management system i.e., their EMS is certified with a well-known standard. This is highly recommended for businesses that need to make their business approach socially responsible to customers, suppliers, and stakeholders, and gain their confidence. Amongst different standards, ISO 14001 is the most widely recognised and internationally accepted standard for an EMS. When your EMS is verified with the standard, it proves your business’s unfailing commitment to environmental restrictions and continual efforts to manage the impacts.

Which Type of EMS Suits Your Business?

For most small-scale enterprises and start-ups, an EMS can be developed in-house and run effortlessly by some dedicated management officials. For large and multinational organisations whose environmental consequences are extensive and sometimes complex, an accredited EMS is useful. However, to know which one is apt for your business, seek external assistance from consultants. After assessing your scale of operations and range of current environmental issues, they can suggest the right system needed for your organisation. External help from the dedicated consultants would make sure you avoid mistakes in creating and implementing your EMS. In case an accredited system is required, they would provide advisory and audit services to ensure that your EMS fulfils all the regulations of the ISO 14001 standard.

Key Takeaway

Both types of environmental management systems are effective if they are implemented right after a perfect baseline assessment of your business processes, inputs, resources use across the supply chain, product consumption, possible environmental risks, and applicable environmental laws. When you start with the planning of an EMS, set some achievable targets concerning your environmental performance. Whether you develop an in-house system or an ISO 14001 accredited system, there should a clear policy and all key people in your organisation should be informed about it. Only with the combined management responsibility and employee participation can you successfully implement an EMS and bring tangible improvements in your environmental management approach.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner of a renowned ISO consultancy in Australia that offers a wide range of certification services to organisations to get them certified with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, and other significant standards. He is an expert ISO 14001 certification consultants and guides businesses on implementation of environmental management systems through his inclusive write-ups.

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