Author -K. R. Singhal
When we go through the definition of ‘environmental management system’, we notice that an ‘environmental management system’ (EMS) is a set of interrelated elements used to establish environmental policy and environmental objectives and to achieve such environmental objectives by managing environmental aspects of the organization.
Here in the above definition, following key terms have been mentioned:
- Environmental policy
- Environmental objectives
- Environmental aspects
What is an environmental policy? Environmental policy of an organization is overall intentions and directions of an organization related to its environmental performance as formally expressed by the top management. The environmental policy of an organization provides a framework for action and for setting of environmental objectives and environmental targets. To understand the definition of environmental policy more clearly, we need to understand following terms:
- Environmental performance
- Environmental objectives
- Environmental targets
Environmental performance of an organization can be known by understanding the measurable results of organization’s management of its environmental aspects. Environmental aspects of an organization are those elements of the organization’s activities, products and services that can interact with the environment. Elements which can put their impact (adverse or beneficial) on the environment can be termed as environmental aspects.
The definition of the ‘environmental management system’ (EMS) include the key term ‘environmental objectives’. Environmental objectives of an organization are overall environmental goals consistent with the environmental policy that the organization sets itself to achieve. Environmental targets are those detailed performance requirements that need to be set and met in order to achieve environmental objectives.
Here, when we carefully read all above terms, what they mean, we observe that the top management of the organization needs to formally express its overall intentions and directions related to environmental performance of the organization. When we talk about establishing or improving an EMS, it involves obtaining commitment from the top management of the organization to improve the environmental management of organization’s activities, products and services. This can be possible only when there is ongoing commitment and leadership of the top management for implementing environmental management system (EMS) in the organization.
Thus, the top management has the key responsibility in implementing an environmental management system. Without understanding the benefits of implementing an environmental management system, the top management will not be able to do its full justice in demonstrating its commitment. The top management must understand the benefits of implementing an environmental management system.
Benefits of implementing EMS
The benefits of implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS in the organization include the following:
- Improved overall performance
- Demonstrated legal and regulatory compliance
- Displayed commitment to the environment
- Competitive advantages
- Better management of environmental risks
- Cost savings
When an organization implements an EMS, it assures its customers of commitment to demonstrated environmental management by the organization. By implementing environmental management system, the organization is able to maintain good public/community relations. These days investors are also concern about the environmental performance of organizations and they are ready to invest their money in the organization, when they come to know that the organization has implemented an environmental management system. A few insurance companies also provide insurance at reasonable cost to organizations implementing environmental management system. When an organization implements an environmental management system, it (the organization) strives to enhance its image and market share.
Certain vendors ask ISO 14001 EMS certification from their suppliers, as such implementing and obtaining ISO 14001:2004 EMS certification from an accredited certification body meet vendor certification criteria.
Today we can’t afford to ignore the environmental aspects of business. In business, waste means costs. Savings energy means saving money. Superior environmental management has a positive impact on the bottom line. Waste management and energy savings start with the application of ISO 14001:2004 EMS. Thus, improving cost control is also a benefit of implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS.
When implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS, an organization needs to implement requirements related to operational control (clause 4.4.6) and emergency preparedness (clause 4.4.7), thus striving the organization towards reducing incidents that may result liability. By implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS, the organization is demonstrating reasonable care and conserving input materials and energy. It also enhances good industry-government relations and thus facilitates the organization in attaining permits and authorization. Implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS foster development and share environmental solutions.
Top management – Key Role
When we talk about establishing, implementing or improving an environmental management system, it involves obtaining commitment from the top management of the organization to improve the environmental management of the organization’s activities, products and services. The ongoing commitment and leadership are very important in implementing ISO 14001:2004 environmental management system.
The top management has a key responsibility in implementing environmental management system in the organization. The top management can:
build awareness about the environmental management system in the organization,
motivate employees for implementing environmental management system in the organization.
Employees of the organization can be better motivated when the top management is able to explain organization’s environmental values, communicate organization’s commitment to the environmental policy of the organization.
The top management should define the boundaries of the organization to which environmental management system will apply. It is the responsibility of the top management to set environmental policy and also to implement the set policy.
The top management of the organization should periodically (at defined intervals) review the adequacy of the environmental management system to ensure its suitability, adequacy, effectiveness and compliance. Such review must include: (i) assessing opportunities for improving the environmental management system of the organization, and (ii) the need for changes to the environmental management system (including the need for changes to the environmental policy, environmental objectives and environmental targets).
The top management should also:
- determine resources needs in the organization
- make available appropriate resources
- define and assign responsibility and authority
The top management should assign a representative or representatives with sufficient authority and responsibility to:
- ensure establishing, implementing and maintaining environmental management system at all applicable levels of the organization, and
- report on the environmental management system performance and its opportunities for improvement.
Ten tips for the top management
Top management of an organization is defined as person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level। The top management get things done through the people of the organization. The top management plan, organize, command, coordinate and control, so following ten tips will be helpful for the top management in the implantation of the environmental management system in the organization:
* Ensure that the organization has appropriate ENVIRONMENTAL पॉलिसी.
* Ensure that measurable ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES and TARGETS are established in line with environmental policy of the organization.
* Keep close interaction with the Management Representative of the organization.
* Take suitable steps to increase awareness of the people of the organization. Motivate people to understand and implement ISO 14001:2004 EMS.
* Make emphasis on training of people in the organization.
* Ensure MANAGEMENT REVIEW from time to time.
* Provide necessary resources to all environmental activities.
* Increase internal communication within the organization.
* Ensure that product realization processes in the organization are effective and meet all environmental parameters.
* Make emphasis on measurement, analysis and improvement। Encourage more internal audits.
- Complete Guide to ISO 14000, Richard B। Clements, Prentice Hall
- Understanding ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System, K. R. Singhal, NCQM Ajmer Centre.
- IS/ISO 14001:2004, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.
- Organizational Behavior, Stephen P. Robbins, Prentice Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi.
- Management Systems Awareness – Publication Series, NCQM Ajmer Centre.
- The article is written for creating awareness.
- Free to publish above article with the name of the author.
- A copy of the published magazine / journal / publication should be sent to Mr. K. R. Singhal, Centre Coordinator, National Centre for Quality Management, Ajmer Centre, 117, Jeevan Vihar Colony, Anasagar Circular Road, Ajmer – 305004 (India).
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