Many businesses know they need an environmental management system, but they don’t really understand them well enough to start the conversation. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
What Is An Environmental System?
An Environmental Management System, or EMS, is a structured framework. Its job is to manage a business’s environmental impacts. Some of these systems may be required where you live, depending on the type of business you operate.
Why Do You Need An EMS?
An EMS system will help your business or organization comply with various environmental laws and regulations in a consistent manner. It also makes environmental management efficient and effective.
You can also take advantage of environmental opportunities that go beyond the minimum requirements set by regulators.
For example, Bry-air food drying products are designed to meet or exceed governmental standards. And, for its customers who need to develop strategies to deal with excessive humidity and moisture, this is important. It’s not just good environmental policy. It’s good business policy, which saves companies money and helps them grow and expand into new markets with a competitive advantage.
Will I Benefit From It?
All businesses from a systematic approach to environmental control. First, it ensures that the company’s resources are used efficiently, and second, it ensures that companies aren’t breaking any local or national environmental regulations.
For companies, an extreme focus on cost-cutting measures means that improving efficiency should be a priority. Fortunately, many environmental management systems are focused on improved efficiency.
If it doesn’t make a process more efficient, and less costly, it’s not worth the trouble, right?
What’s The Price?
In the medium-term, effective EMS is considered “cost neutral” and will often lead to savings through improved efficiencies. In the near-term, costs may be expensive, depending on how the EMS is implemented.
In the long-term accrued savings should pay back most technologies.
But, even small organizations can benefit from EMS. Costs vary by company, and depend on the system being installed and implemented. For example, a plant-wide environmental system may require additional staff to run and maintain it.
What Kind Of Environmental Impacts Can You Protect Against?
The kind, and type, of environmental impact varies by company or organization. Coal plants, for example, have a different environmental impact than a paper mill. And, an office building will have a different environmental impact than either the mill or plant.
Each system must be appropriate for the organization. The size, nature, frequency and likelihood of the impact must be assessed. The duration must also be assessed.
There also needs to be an analysis of the sensitivity of the receiving environment, as well as a measure of whether the impact is reversible.
For example, if a company disturbs a forest during industrial operations, can that land be rehabilitated and restored to its former state in the future?
Some impacts are more significant than others, and this impact may or may not be covered by existing laws and regulations. On the other hand, some laws are more strict than others, and some regulations are more strictly interpreted and enforced than others.
Finally, an assessment of the environmental impact on employees, neighbors, and regulators needs to be done.
It all starts with an environmental study. The study analyses the organization’s operations, how it interacts with the environment, what the current state of the local environment is, and actions the company would need to take to stay compliant.
What Is The Certification Process?
Certification is done to ensure that the EMS conforms to the requirements of various standards like ISO 14001. While certification isn’t necessary, it does allow businesses to track and monitor the system they’ve put into place to ensure it meets all of the requirements of the standard.
What Is The Accreditation Process?
To make sure that certification bodies are making recommendations that meet certain minimum standards, accreditation is done. National accreditation bodies ensure that certification organizations carry out assessments appropriately and in a consistent manner.
For example, in the UK, the accreditation body is known as the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). In the U.S. the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets standards for certification bodies like ISO and LEEDS.
Make sure that any environmental system that you purchase and set up within your business is certified and that the certification body issuing such certification is accredited.
This is the only way to ensure that the system you have is legitimate and that it will function as its intended, and that it will meet the minimum requirements set by local ordinances, state, and federal laws.