The environment has arrived! It is no longer just the air we breath, or the world we live in, it has become a requirement for businesses to address the environment in order to maintain customers, and exist [thrive] in an ever more critical global economy.
There is an ever-upward spiral of new environmentally related legislation. All of which aids global environment for our fellow citizens. Environmental management systems can assist an organisation to meet its increasingly heavy burden of responsibility for the future condition of our world 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 will shortly have ISO14001. This standard is expected to be issued during 1996, and forms part of the ISO14000 series of standards providing not only a specification but guidance and advice on a wide range of environmental issues including auditing, labeling, life-cycle assessment etc.
At the European level we have EMAS, or the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. This was introduced by a European Union council regulation (No.1836/93), requiring implementation in all European Union Member States. EMAS was formally introduced in the United Kingdom in April 1995. Although the scheme itself is mandatory in all EU Countries it is, at present, a voluntary scheme for individual companies who must be within the industrial sector. It is intended to provide recognition for those companies who have established a programme of environmental action designed to protect, and to continuously improve, their environmental performance.
The UK has had its own EMS Standard, BS7750, since 1992 and increasing numbers of companies, within and without the UK, have achieved Registration to it. The requirements ofBS7750 are little different to ISO 14001; it is therefore suspected that BS7750 may cease to be relevant once its international brother is born.
Waste of resources and creation of pollution are normally indications of areas for significant improvement. All of the EMS standards stress the need for continuous, never ending, improvement in striving to protect the environment, not only for ourselves but for future generations to come.