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Eco-Management and Auditing Scheme (EMAS)

There is an ever-upward spiral of new environmentally related legislation. Environmental management systems can assist an organisation to meet its increasingly heavy burden of responsibility for the future condition of the environment. In many cases, the introduction of an environmental management system can also aid cost savings, and reduction of environmental liability.

There are a number of standards available, around which we can model our Environmental Management System, or EMS. On the international scene we have ISO14001. Within Europe the Eco-Management and Auditing System (EMAS) operates. EMAS is generally a site based environmental management system with due consideration provided to off site activities that may have a bearing upon the products and services of the primary site.

EMAS requires an Environmental Policy to be in existence within the organisation, fully supported by senior management, and outlining the policies of the company, not only to the staff but to the general public and other stake holders. 

A preparatory review is part of an EMAS Assessment.  The Environmental Review must be comprehensive in consideration of input processes and output at the site. This control process is designed to identify all relevant environmental aspects that may arise from existence on the site. These may relate to current operations, they may relate to future, perhaps even unplanned future activities, and they will certainly relate to the activities performed on site in the past (i.e. contamination of land).

The initial or preparatory review will also include a wide-ranging consideration of the legislation which may effect the site, whether it is currently being complied with, and perhaps even whether copies of the legislation are available. Many of the environmental assessments undertaken already have highlighted that companies are often unaware of ALL of the legislation that affects them, and being unaware, are often not meeting the requirements of that legislation.

The company will declare its primary environmental objectives, those that can have most environmental impact. In order to gain most benefit these will become the primary areas of consideration within the improvement process, and the company’s environmental programme. The programme will be the plan to achieve specific goals or targets along the route to a specific goal and describe the means to reach those objectives such that they are real and achievable. The Environmental Management System provides further detail on the environmental programme. The EMS establishes procedures, work instructions and controls to ensure that implementation of the policy and achievement of the targets can become a reality. Communication is a vital factor, enabling people in the organisation to be aware of their responsibilities, aware of the objectives of the scheme, and able to contribute to its success.

 

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