Implementing An Environmental Management Scheme (EMS) – All You Need To Know

Having a sustainable and eco-friendly business model is fast becoming the norm across all sectors in the UK. In this day and age, climate change awareness is extremely high, with the vast majority of people knowing that things drastically need to change amidst rising large-scale shifts in weather patterns.

With the continuing increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere globally, through the burning of fossil fuels, the world we live in has vastly changed to what it was a few hundred years ago. In fact, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it has been for at least 800,000 years, whilst since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (1750) CO2 levels have risen by more than 30%. This has ultimately led to rising sea levels, due to the unpredictable yet rapid melting of polar ice caps, as well as freak weather behaviour becoming all too common.

Over the past few years, the education surrounding climate change has steadily expanded through the role of activism, such as Greta Thunberg’s Fridays For Future movement, as well as mainstream media attention. Still though, not enough is being done as a global or national collective to reverse the damage already inflicted onto our planet.

Implementing an Environmental Management Scheme (EMS) should be at the forefront of every company’s main objectives and strategies, helping to reduce the environmental impact of a business whilst protecting the world around us. Here’s all you need to know on how to put a successful EMS in place and the ways to achieve this:

What Is An Environmental Management Scheme? 

An Environmental Management System (EMS) can be described as ‘a set of tools for managing, reducing or preventing environmental impact’. In other words, it is a planned approach aimed at minimising an organisation’s impact on the environment.

It includes the organisational structure, planning and resources for developing, implementing and maintaining the policy for environmental protection.

An EMS follows a plan-do-check-act cycle (PDCA):

The key points of an EMS are:

Policy Statement – A statement of the organisation’s commitment to the environment.

Identification of significant environmental impacts – The environmental properties or attributes of the products, activities or services your company provides and their effects on the environment.

Development of objectives and targets – The environmental goals you have, where you want your company to be and how you want it to be seen.

Implementation – Your plans to meet the objectives you have set out.

Training – What instruction or courses your employees need to go on to make sure they are able to fulfil their environmental responsibilities.

Management review – Ensuring that the process is continually monitored and reviewed by the senior management. 

What Are The Benefits Of Implementing An Environmental Management Scheme?

Some of the ways that an EMS could benefit your business include: 

  • Improved environmental performance
  • Enhanced compliance
  • Pollution prevention
  • Resource conservation
  • New customers/markets
  • Increased efficiency/reduced costs
  • Enhanced employee morale
  • Enhanced image with public, regulators, lenders, investors
  • Employee awareness of environmental issues and responsibilities

When you commit to any type of improvements, a clear starting point has to be addressed. A baseline from which you can measure your progress and performance is always recommended. This will determine what areas of your organisation you want to start improving, what your organisation already does and how it does it, what the current plans and policies are, who is responsible and who needs to be kept informed about any changes or who needs to be brought into the programme.

Once this is set in motion, you can start to develop the improvement programme as well as the priorities within it. This can be done through identifying the aspects and impacts of a company in all manner of ways, including EMS risk assessments and site drainage plans.

An aspect can be defined as the cause of something, in this case the elements of an organisation’s activities products or services that can interact with the environment. For example, using energy means the burning of fossil fuels.

An impact can be defined as the effect/change to the environment, whether that be beneficial or detrimental, that results from the organisation’s activities, products or services. The impact of burning fossil fuels will be resource depletion, effects on local air quality and a contributory factor in climate change.

From this, a solution can be drawn up to combat the impact of the particular activities, products or services that a business exhibits. These include waste management, water conservation, a revision of materials used in manufacturing as well as company incentive schemes such as recycling. projects and cycle to work initiatives.

How To Make Your Environmental Management Scheme Long-Term & Overcome Stumbling Blocks? 

Some of the ways in which an EMS may have a negative effect on your business:

  • Increased staff time and resources.
  • Internal labour costs
  • Potential consulting assistance
  • Outside training of personnel

Co-ordinating a successful environmental management scheme can be a difficult task, however no matter what your budget is there are always ways to implement positive change when it comes to sustainability. Once a successful EMS system is in place and your business’ carbon footprint is consistently reduced, it’s important to stay on top of this and always seek for improvement. Thinking outside the box and getting other staff members involved in the ideas process is key, allowing for a sense of camaraderie whilst installing a productive and eco-friendly ethos into the DNA of a business.

Your EMS should be regularly reviewed and analysed to not just see if targets are hit, but to also incorporate new technology and systems which enable even further beneficial change. This allows the cycle to continue, setting your business up to be as green and sustainable as possible in the long-term.

 

We hope this has outlined to you exactly what an Environmental Management Scheme and how to successfully implement one to exact change. If you require any more information on the strategic advisory programs we provide, or anything accounting related for that matter, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.

We’re now also offering complimentary strategic consultation sessions up to 30th June 2021. Please contact Nordens’ Director of Strategic Consultancy Joe Sword at js@nordens-strategic.co.uk or 020 8530 0720.

 
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