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Environmental Management Systems

An environmental management system (EMS) is an organized approach to improving the immediate and long-term environmental performance of an organization’s everyday services, processes, and general business practices. This approach is applied through the consolidation of any in-place environmental, regulatory, and pollution prevention policies and practices, and any tracking mechanisms into one formal facility-wide program.

Benefits of establishing an EMS include:

  • enhanced environmental performance
  • increased efficiency
  • decreased liability
  • reduced costs
  • improved employee and community health
  • improved public image
  • competitive advantage

ISO 14000 — a series of international standards on environmental management — provides a guideline for the development of an EMS and the supporting audit program. The main thrust for ISO 14000 came as a result of the Rio Summit on the Environment held in 1992. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created a group to investigate how such standards might benefit business and industry. This group recommended the creation of an ISO committee to establish an international standard.

ISO 14001 represents the cornerstone standard of the ISO 14000 series. It specifies a framework of control for an Environmental Management System against which an organization can be certified by a third party.

Although this certification is not required by U.S. law, many companies expanding globally — especially those working in Europe or with European partners — apply for ISO 14001 certification because they view it as a door-opener for European business.

See helpful links about manufacturing for more information on environmental management systems.

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