Last edited 13 Feb 2019

Environmental management system

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes or practices that enable an organisation to reduce its overall environmental impacts whilst increasing its operating efficiency. It is a framework that enables a company to achieve its environmental goals through a consistent approach. Each organisation should have a system that is tailored to its specific goals and business.

Whilst EMSs are voluntary they demonstrate an explicit commitment to continual environmental improvement. They can also be used to:

The benefits of implementing an EMS are not limited to a reduction in overall environmental impacts. They also include:

The content of an EMS varies depending on the nature of the business in question. However some key components include:

For any organisation wishing to implement an Environmental Management System, there are three options available:

  • Development of own in-house system.
  • Use the guidelines within the international standard ISO 14001, the EU Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or the British Standard BS8555.
  • Follow the guidelines and pursue formal certification to ISO 14001 or EMAS registration.

Organisations can produce a manual to provide a clear and cohesive guide for all employees regarding their EMS. For more information, see Environmental management procedures manual.

NB From September 2018. Organisations must have migrated their environmental management system to the 2015 of ISO 14001 to receive third party certification.

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