What is an Environmental Management System?

Blog Post by Ellie Shaw 11 February 2015

An environmental management system pretty much does what it says on the tin. It can be defined as a structured framework for managing and reducing an organisation’s impact on the environment.

You might find it easier to think of it as the procedures, policies, roles and responsibilities you can put in place to help your organisation reduce its impact on the environment. 

Why would you implement an environmental management system?

There are many benefits to be gained from implementing an environmental management system. These include: 

  • Improved efficiency and reduced operating costs. 
  • Ability to demonstrate a commitment to legal compliance.
  • Ability to demonstrate a commitment to environmental improvement to stakeholders
  • Access to new customers and markets
  • Better management of environmental risks and therefore reduced risk of costly liabilities.
  • Enhanced reputation and image
  • Reduced insurance costs   
  • Improved relationship with regulators   

What’s involved in an environmental management system?             

When you have an environmental management system, you should identify what your organisation’s environmental impacts are and have processes in place to manage and reduce them. This will usually involve setting objectives and targets, developing policies and procedures, assigning roles and responsibilities to staff, providing training, and ensuring regular auditing and review of the system to make sure it’s working.


If you’re looking for your management system to be certified, you should know that there are several Standards around, including EMAS and BS 8555, but by far the most popular one is ISO 14001.  This is the Standard that your clients are most likely to expect you to be certified to and is the one most companies become certified to, with nearly 17,000 certificates issued in the UK last year.

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is an international standard for environmental management systems. It ISO 14001provides a set of guidelines for businesses to promote best practice and improve their environmental performance by setting out criteria for an environmental management system. It has been designed so it can be used by organisations of any activity, sector or size and there are companies all over the world who are operating environmental management systems certified to it.

Hopefully this article has given you a better understanding of what an environmental management system is. Want to know more? Let us know your questions about environmental management systems in the comments and we’ll answer them in another blog post!


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