Introducing an Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001
Definition: environmental management – what is that?
Environmental management is a duty of corporate management. The management is responsible for the planning, introduction and implementation. It first defines the environmental policy and goals and then breaks down these goals into instructions for action, responsibilities and rules with which the company can implement its environmental policy and achieve its goals. The overarching goals of an Environmental Management System are to reduce the use of resources and energy, to minimise the impact of business activities on the environment and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Who implements an Environmental Management System in companies?
For the establishment of an Environmental Management System the management often appoints an Environmental Management Officer. He supports the management in setting up and implementing the Environmental Management System. He defines environmental management measures with the specialist departments and monitors compliance. He assumes a cross-sectional task for environmental management in the company. If the company lacks the personnel skills or time resources it can appoint an external Environmental Management Officer.
What does an Environmental Management System include?
In an Environmental Management System a company defines its organisational and operational structure – i.e. responsibilities, operational rules and procedures for environmental protection. This includes specifications for:
- Energy, material and resource use, consumption and recycling
- Impact of products over their lifetime to recycling
- Energy types and flows in production, logistics and administration
- Environmental impacts (air, soil, water) including species protection
- Waste and wastewater
An Environmental Management System contains concrete and measurable goals for continuous monitoring and optimisation. Ideally, it accompanies companies on their way to climate neutrality.
What Environmental Management Systems are there?
An environmental management system is like a tailor-made suit: it is always done according to similar rules, but the Environmental Management Officer takes individual measurements. Because every company is different and has different environmental risks. However, like a suit, there are several tailoring models that the Environmental Management Officer can use to make the system. Three environmental management standards are available:
- Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
- Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001
- Ecostep according to the ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 series of standards; quality management and environmental management for small and medium-sized enterprises
Structure of an Environmental Management System
These three series of standards have in common that they describe a continuous process that functions according to the PDCA cycle. PDCA stands for “Plan – Do – Check – Act” – i.e. plan, implement, check and optimise again. First, companies define new goals for the sustainable use of all resources. They set up new processes with which they want to implement them in their company. Afterwards they develop a system for monitoring these goals in the future and controlling the implementation. Thus, after the introduction of an Environmental Management System, a cycle is created in which all those responsible regularly check whether they are still complying with their goals. In the process, they continually discover optimisation potential along the technical development that leads to further improvements in the environmental impact.
Introduction of an Environmental Management System
The introduction of an Environmental Management System is based on a conceptual and ongoing process that is systematic throughout the company.
Analysis of strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and risks:
- Assessment of the current state
- Analysis of potential environmental risks
Description of objectives:
- Definition of specific goals to reduce risks
Planning of measures:
- Allocation of tasks and responsibilities in management
- Employee training
- Implementation support by the Environmental Management Officer
- Definition of key figures for future control
- Establishment of control mechanisms
- Schritt 4: Written documentation of the environmental management system
Establishment of software for regular monitoring:
- Training of staff for the application of the IT system
Regular monitoring of the measures for their goal-oriented implementation:
- Monitoring along the technical development
- Preparations for optimizing the target specifications
- Implementation of optimization measures
After implementation, most companies strive for environmental management certification according to ISO 14001, which is a kind of environmental management TÜV (inspection). In this certification, an environmental management auditor certifies the compliance with the standard.
What are the requirements for the introduction of an Environmental Management System?
An Environmental Management System must take into account all internal and external environmental impacts of a company. In a documentation, standard-compliant operating instructions must be described. These include in particular:
- Company: Recording of all internal and external, as well as environmentally related aspects of a company and how they currently and in the future affect the environment and environmental legislation
- Management: Clarification of responsibilities with action assignments and the obligation to define environmental goals in the areas of responsibility
- Planning: Development of specific measures to achieve the goals
- Resources: Provision of budgets to achieve the goals
- Environmental protection: Analysis and redefinition of all processes in production and services over their entire product life cycle
- Emergency plans: Development of countermeasures for conceivable environmental hazards
- Performance measurement: Definition of key figures to measure goal achievement
- Controls: Definition of standards for regular checks of conformity and identification of new weak points
- Improvement: Elimination of newly identified risks and optimization of the Environmental Management System
What are the benefits of an Environmental Management System?
An Environmental Management System almost always leads to an optimization of operational processes. Through the continuous monitoring process, it reduces the potential risks of negative environmental impacts. It ensures sustainable use of resources, prevents waste and rejects. This saves companies the use of valuable raw materials, water and energy. This also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, waste and wastewater. With an Environmental Management System, the management ensures that employees comply with laws and official environmental regulations. This increases legal certainty and minimizes liability risks.
Introduction of environmental management with Memex Consulting GmbH
Preparing, setting up and documenting an Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001 requires a lot of know-how. Especially medium-sized companies should enrich their own expertise with external expertise.
You want to learn more about the opportunities of environmental management in your company? Arrange a free initial consultation with Memex Consulting GmbH now.
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