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ISO 14001

Understand the principles behind environmental management systems. Recognise the importance of effective implementation of an environmental management system. Be familiar with all of the stages associated with the development and mplementation of an environmental management system. Appreciate the benefit to an organisation of developing and implementing an environmental management system.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a tool designed to manage or control the effects of an organization’s activities on the environmental resources. EMS helps in environmental preservation and protection. The tool tracks environmental data for an organization using information technology to enable organizations to manage the impact they cause on the environment (Oliveira et al, 2016, p. 1386). Policymakers worldwide have advocated for the EMS due to the many benefits the organization will accrue from EMS and also given that it helps in environmental protection. Organizations cause environmental degradation due to various activities including waste dumping, high energy consumption and release into the environment, noise and air pollution in addition to significant water consumption. Many companies are reluctant to implement the EMS due to various reasons that they view as stumbling blocks to the success of Environmental, industrial management. The two most common standards on which an Environmental Management system is based are ISO 14001 and EMAS. The purpose of this report is to investigate why organizations are reluctant to implement Environmental Management Systems.

International Organizations for Standardization (ISO 14001) is a group of voluntary standards that help firms make profits and achieve environmental gains through environmental management. The standards ensure that all environmental issues are taken into account during decision-making exercise (Fura, 2013, p. 1715). It is the most widely used standard for EMS in the world with many organizations certified under the standard. The ISO14001 was developed in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization. By the end of the year 2009, ISO 14001 is now used in nearly 160 countries. Organizations adopt the ISO 14001 to improve resource efficiency, reduce wastage and reduce costs incurred. ISO 14001 is efficient, and it can be integrated with other functions of management and help companies achieve their economic and environmental targets.

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is an instrument developed by the European Commission in 1993. EMAS is a voluntary environmental management instrument that enables firms to manage and increase their environmental performance. For organizations to become EMAS certified they have to meet the European Commission Eco-Management and Audit Scheme regulation requirements (Prakash and Potoski, 2006, p. 357). EMAS is binding to companies that voluntarily chose to implement the scheme. The EMAS includes the ISO 14001 standard requirements and other added requirements. Of the two commonly used standards, the EMAS is the most difficult one to implement making it the premium instrument for ecological management. To register with EMAS organizations have to comply with implementation steps in Article four of the EMAS regulation. EMAS registered organizations fulfill more requirements than ISO 14001 certified organizations in credibility, transparency, continuous improvement process, compliance, and Stakeholder engagement. The implementation of EMAS is costlier than ISO 14001, but there is a catch for organizations in that the advantages easily outweigh the high cost.

EMAS

Both the ISO 14001 and the EMAS are very useful to organizations. They may appear costly to implement but then a business has to be accountable and at the same time meets its set obligations. The standards were not set by a single country but by very many member states making it a good decision that would have the same impact on each state. The standards are voluntary, and no organization or state is forced legally to implement the schemes. The society has obligations to protect and conserve the environment, and as the society supports the existence of businesses, business should feel obliged to assist the society. The Environmental Management System has two main goals namely compliance and Waste reduction (Wirth, 2009, p.81). Compliance helps in the maintenance of a minimal legal standard while waste reduction involves pollution prevention and waste reduction, recycling and reusing.

The principles behind the EMS can be categorized into three frameworks namely producer responsibility, quality assurance, and continual improvement (Malmborg, 2010, p. 60). The system’s success relies a lot on feedback to make the process efficient. Producer responsibility principles reiterate to manufacturers the fact that the effects of a product or service never stop at the factory gate when the product is taken to the society. Companies have to be entirely responsible for the impacts of their activities and not partially. Though the responsibilities are continually being shared between the users and beneficiaries of a product, the manufacturer is recognized and held accountable as the original producer.

Quality assurance should be a priority for any organization. Quality is not an accident and organizations should keep striving to offer quality always. For quality to be achieved, the management of complex systems, programs and processes should not be taken lightly but must be closely monitored, critically evaluated and carefully planned. The EMS requires organizations to offer quality products that are safe for users and have minimum environmental impacts (Delmas, 2008, p. 70). The quality of a product or services directly shows the effect the product may have on the ecological systems that support life. The principle seeks to protect consumers and legally hold organizations accountable for any inferior product or service produced. The products should attain a stated standard of quality.

Continual Improvement principle holds producers accountable for not improving their products to minimize the impact they have on the environment. Manufacturers and producers have a role to play in continual improvement in environmental performance. The producers of environmental effects have to establish plans that facilitate continual improvement in environmental gain over time. The continual principle also states that the system should be scientifically based and above all be practically useful and usable. Product improvement is mandatory, and the environmental processes have to be upgraded from time to time to protect the environment.

Principles behind Environmental Management Systems

An effective EMS has a lot of benefits to the business. An EMS helps the firm to minimize the environmental liabilities. Through policies and coordinated control and management of environmental pollution, an EMS helps an organization to conserve the environment and abide by the law. Costly fines and damage to the business reputations are some of the issues that business avoid by implementing the scheme. EMS reduce unnecessary expenditure thus improving resource efficiency in an organization. Through improving resource efficiency, a company can slash down the costs incurred in running the business. Resources will be properly utilized and opportunities maximized. EMS help organizations to build environmental awareness amongst employees and other stakeholders. Employees become environmentally conscious. Employees will be able to participate in environmental conservation and protection of ecological resources. By involving employees, the company will increase the rate of recycling and reusing materials thereby using resources efficiently and improving the environmental performance of the company.

A successfully implemented EMS will communicate an organization’s environmental credentials to the staff, clients, suppliers, and stakeholders. The image of the company will improve and thus attract a lot of investors. Investors want to be associated with reputable firms because image builds a clientele base that ensures maximum returns on their investments. Through an EMS, a company will set small achievable improvement targets that are easy and cheaper to achieve. The achievement of these goals will boost the morale of the organization towards environmental conservation and protection of ecological processes that support life. Through continuous product and service improvement, an organization will increase its sales numbers and thus remain profitable. Companies that have incorporated an EMS have a competitive advantage over the firms that have not adopted the standard. The competitive advantage can push certified firms to become market leaders and improved public perception of the business.

Having an EMS is not demanded by law although it is strongly encouraged by regulatory authorities for its financial and ecological gains. The implementation stage of an Environmental Management System involves eight key stages that enable the successful implementation of an EMS (Tomsic, Markic and Bojnec, 2016, p. 182). The first stage is identifying significant environmental aspects and impacts. In this step, a person has to pinpoint out the environmental factors that the activities of the organization affect. The second step involves identifying legislation and evaluating compliance. The firm needs to have adequate knowledge on the legal requirements and how the organization can comply. The third step involves writing and communicating an environmental policy. Every employee in the organization needs to be part of the organization’s plans. By communicating the organization's policy, each staff will have adequate knowledge of their part to play in the success of implementing the scheme. The fourth stage of the implementing process includes setting and tracking objectives and targets. The organization needs to set long-term achievable targets for environmental targets. The targets should not be too unrealistic as that will discourage the implementation process. The organization should also set small targets that are quicker to achieve.

The importance of effective implementation of an environmental management system.

The fifth stage involves measuring and monitoring data. To determine if the process will be a success data has to be monitored and measured. The sixth stage includes controlling operations and demonstrating emergency, preparedness, and response. This is a very important stage in the implementation process. How can the system respond to an emergency? The organization has to pay keen attention to make the system as efficient as possible. The second last stage involves checking and auditing progress. During implementation, it is beneficial to check the progress of the system. It is at this stage that critical evaluation of the systems viability has to be determined. If the implementation process is not going according to plans, necessary interceptions have to be made to get the system back on track. The eighth and the last stage of the implementation progress requires carrying out a management review. At this final stage, the management carries out an honest review of the whole system to determine if it will help the organization achieve the required environmental aims and the set targets and objectives of the organization.

Implementing an EMS has a lot of benefits to the organization. Implementing an EMS improves an organization’s image and credibility. The local community, clients, and neighbors will develop an interest in your environmental conservation practices. The clients and the locals will want to be associated with your company. Implementing an EMS can help firm win tenders if it is a requirement. EMS help organizations to comply with legal requirements. Implementing an EMS i.e. ISO 14001 provides a framework for identifying and complying with numerous environmental requirements that are linked to the company’s processes. The system itself can help in maintaining the organization’s compliance. Implementation shows people that your care about the ecological resources and that you are compliant with all legal requirements thus boosting the firm’s image and credibility. EMS help in controlling costs. Each organization wants to reduce costs so as to maximize profits. The major problem with companies is how can they reduce costs and at the same time meet the set standards for their products. An EMS can aid in cost reduction by conserving the energy and input raw materials needed by a firm’s processes.

An EMS offers an organization a higher chance of success when implementing. Tracking and collecting data offers accurate information that can help in correcting problems and faster recovery. An EMS enables quicker improvement processes through continual improvement from smaller improvements to bigger enhancements of organizational processes. The implementation of an EMS brings together everyone in the company and creates a team spirit that drives the organization as a single team towards the achievement of a shared goal. Employees involved in company improvements become more engaged in other aspects of the company. Thus they feel valued, and they commit their futures to the organization. Reducing employee turnover saves the organization a lot of money as it is expensive to recruit than to retain staff (Berliner and Prakash, 2014, p. 801). All these benefits accrue to organizations that implement an EMS. To be a market leader and to maintain good public image a company has to adopt an EMS to show to the world and competitors how crucial environmental management is to your company’s decision-making process.

Most business people fear to venture into the unknown and so are organization’s decision makers. Most organizations take up schemes and processes because it is a requirement of the law. The EMS is a voluntary system, and thus many organization will opt not to take it. Another reason as to why organizations do not implement EMS is that they feel that their resources are overstretched and thus they cannot be able to implement an EMS. Though this reason is due to lack of knowledge or limited awareness as an EMS brings more benefits than losses in the financial and environmental aspects. Companies are reluctant to implement Environmental Management Systems because they do not have the required expertise to implement the system successfully. Lack of knowledge or expertise is a setback given that some organizations do not have the financial muscle to hire a technician to oversee the whole process (Liu, Lau and Fellows, 2012, p.160).

Conclusion

An EMS offers a lot of gains to an organization than losses. Organizations should not be reluctant to implement the system as they have a societal obligation as entities. Much of the problems in the society have been caused by companies and thus it is prudent for organizations to help manage the environment.

References

Berliner, D, & Prakash, A 2014, 'Public Authority and Private Rules: How Domestic Regulatory Institutions Shape the Adoption of Global Private Regimes', International Studies Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 793-803.

Delmas, M, & Montiel, I 2008, 'The Diffusion of Voluntary International Management Standards: Responsible Care, ISO 9000, and ISO 14001 in the Chemical Industry', Policy Studies Journal, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 65-93. 

Fura, B 2013, 'Improving ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems', Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 1711-1721.

Liu, AM, Lau, WW, & Fellows, R 2012, 'The contributions of environmental management systems towards project outcome: Case studies in Hong Kong', Architectural Engineering & Design Management, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 160-169.

Malmborg, Å, & Mark-Herbert, C 2010, 'ISO 14001 Certification in BoP Markets', Greener Management International, no. 56, pp. 57-73.

Matuszak-Flejszman, A 2009, 'Benefits of Environmental Management System in Polish Companies Compliant with ISO 14001',Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 411-419.

Oliveira, JA, Oliveira, OJ, Ometto, AR, Ferraudo, AS, & Salgado, MH 2016, 'Environmental Management System ISO 14001 factors for promoting the adoption of Cleaner Production practices', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 133, pp. 1384-1394

Papa, M 2008, 'The Voluntary Environmentalists: Green Clubs, ISO 14001, and Voluntary Environmental Regulations', Global Environmental Politics, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 156-158.

Potoski, M, & Prakash, A 2013, 'Do Voluntary Programs Reduce Pollution? Examining ISO 14001's Effectiveness across Countries',Policy Studies Journal, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 273-294.

Prakash, A, & Potoski, M 2006, 'Racing to the Bottom? Trade, Environmental Governance, and ISO 14001', American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 350-364.

Prakash, A, & Potoski, M 2007, 'Investing Up: FDI and the Cross-Country Diffusion of ISO 14001 Management Systems',International Studies Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 723-744.

Tomšič, N, Markič, M, & Bojnec, Š 2016, 'The Influence of Leadership Factors on the Implementation of iso 14001 in Organizations',Managing Global Transitions: International Research Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 175-193.

'VICI AG International', 2013, LC-GC Europe, vol. 26, no. 8, p. 471.

Whitford, AB, & Tucker, JA 2012, 'Focal Points in Public Policy: Evidence from Voluntary Regulation', Review of Policy Research, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 281-299. 

WIRTH, DA 2009, 'THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION: PRIVATE VOLUNTARY STANDARDS AS SWORDS AND SHIELDS', Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 79-102.

Zobel, T 2016, 'The impact of ISO 14001 on corporate environmental performance: a study of Swedish manufacturing firms', Journal of Environmental Planning & Management, vol. 59, no. 4, pp. 587-606.

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