3 Types of Environmental Management System

There are just 3 types of environmental management system which have been outlined and discussed in this blog post to boost your knowledge.

Environmental performance has been one of the major factors in organisations, companies and industries that have been sort for by everyone because of how the environment impacts us.

The International Organisation for Standardisation has been at the forefront of getting organisations to be environmentally friendly and sustainable creating a system for environmental performance.

With these efforts taken into consideration, we want to look at the 3 types of Environmental Management systems.

But before we look at the 3 types of Environmental Management systems, let’s actually look at what Environmental Management System is.

What is Environmental Management System?

An environmental Management System (EMS) is a system that manages the environmental risks and impacts within a company or organisation. It involves legislation and operational practices.

According to ISO 14001:2015,

“An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a tool for managing the impacts of an organisation’s activities on the environment. It provides a structured approach to planning and implementing environment protection measures”.

According to the Department of Environment, Government of Australia,

“An EMS monitors environmental performance, similar to the way a financial management system monitors expenditure and income and enables regular checks of a company’s financial performance.

An EMS integrated environmental management into a company’s daily operations, long term planning and other quality management”.

Environmental Management System (EMS) tells you how to handle a project safely to yield maximum performance. It provides a framework for the safe performance of a project to prevent Environmental risk and impacts.

Environmental Management System can be integrated through the organisation’s procedures on how to perform certain activities with an ultimate goal to perform a goal safely while keeping optimum performance.

The most used standard on which an Environmental Management System (EMS) is based is International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001 but EMAS is an alternative that can be used.

Basic Elements of an EMS include the following:

  • Reviewing the organisation’s environmental goals;
  • Analyzing its environmental impacts and legal requirements (or compliance obligations);
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets to reduce environmental impacts and comply with legal requirements (or compliance obligations);
  • Establishing programs to meet these objectives and targets;
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives;
  • Ensuring employees’ environmental awareness and competence; and,
  • Reviewing the progress of the EMS and making improvements.

Reasons to Implement an Environmental Management System

The ISO 14001:2015 gives reasons to implement an Environmental Management System,

“A systematic approach to environmental management that can provide top management with information to build success over the long term and create options for contributing to sustainable development by:

  • Protecting the environment by preventing or mitigating adverse environmental impacts;
  • Mitigating the potential adverse effect of environmental conditions on the organisation;
  • Assisting the organisation in the fulfilment of compliance obligations;
  • Enhancing environmental performance;
  • Controlling or influencing the way the organisation’s products and services are designed, manufactured, distributed, consumed and disposed of by using a life cycle perspective that can prevent environmental impacts from being unintentionally shifted elsewhere within the life cycle;
  • Achieving financial and operational benefits that can result from implementing environmentally sound alternatives that strengthen the organisation’s market position; and
  • Communicating environmental information to relevant interested parties.”

Environmental Management System consists of:

  • Environmental Impacts and Aspects.
  • Compliance.
  • Objectives.

The planning phase of the Environmental Management System

  • In the planning phase of EMS, identify the environmental impacts and determine which of those impacts are significant, set objectives and targets to minimise environmental impacts and improve environmental performance, and establish action plans to meet the objectives and targets.
  • An environmental policy defines our organisation’s commitment to the environment through improvement in environmental performance.
  • A strong, clear environmental policy can serve as a starting point for developing our Environmental Management System.

Objective and Target

  • Specific targets must be met to achieve an objective of an EMS.
  • The objectives and targets will drive many other Environmental Management System elements, particularly measurement and monitoring activities.

Importance of Environmental Management

  • To prevent and solve environmental problems.
  • To develop research and monitoring.
  • To warn threats and identify opportunities.
  • To suggest measures to resource conservation.
  • For long term/short term sustainable developments.
  • Develop a strategy to solve the environmental issues.

How is Environmental Management System created?

The Environmental Management System is created by the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model. The PDCA model gives the best guide in creating an Environmental Management system.

It that environmental issues are not just identified but also controlled and monitored according to organisational goals which are reviewed and updated periodically.

The PDCA model consists of the following elements.

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

1. Plan

Planning involves making environmental reviews by collecting baseline information which includes legal requirements, environmental aspects, environmental impacts, current practices of the organisation and the environmental opportunities.

It also involves obtaining the measurable environmental goals and objectives of the organisation that synchronises with legal requirements with a focus to improve work performance and efforts to achieve these objectives and targets within given time limits.

2. Do

This deals with the Implementation and Operation of the plans

It involves providing resources and delegating responsibilities for the efficient performance of the system.

It also involves the training and sharing of awareness to staff to make sure the environmental policy and its implications are understood to ensure Environmental Management System conformity.

It involves the communication of the environmental management issues to the various facets of the organisation including external parties.

It also involves documenting the environmental policy and this document contains the environment and organisation’s objectives and goals of the organisation

It involves the identification implementation of operational controls to ensure safe work procedures and achievement of organisation targets.

It also involves the identification of unsafe work practices and situations that call for emergency response establishing procedures to prevent and control them.

3. Check

This involves making regular checks and recommending corrective actions for mitigation.

This involves monitoring procedures pointing to significant environmental aspects and their related impacts evaluating its compliance with legal and other requirements.

Checks are also done to point out and measure non-conformity to legal and other requirements introducing corrective and preventative actions procedures to handle this non-conformity reviewing their efficiency.

It also involves keeping records of Environmental Management System conformity and its performance.

It involves EMS auditing which involves checking occasionally the Environmental Management System to ensure conformity with legal and other requirements and achieving of organisational targets and objectives.

4. Act

This entails the managerial review and taking of actions by organisation management to ensure compliance with legal and other requirements recording better options for improvement.

It also involves taking necessary actions to amend and redefine objectives, targets and other elements to ensure consistent improvement.

Outputs from this phase will inform the next cycle of EMS implementation to ensure continuous improvement in environmental performance.

Implementing and maintaining an EMS minimises risks to human health and the environment, highlights opportunities to improve resource efficiency and reduce overheads and improve business performance overall.

Examples of Environmental Management Systems

Some examples of an Environmental Management System include:

  • Bluescope environmental HSEC policy
  • Bluescope steel environmental principles
  • Bluescope steel environmental standards
  • Company-wide procedures and guidelines
  • Operational procedures (courtesy of Bluescope Steel).

3 Types of Environmental Management System

  • ISO 14001
  • Eco-Management Auditing Scheme
  • ISO 14005

1. ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is one of the types of environmental management system is an international standard that states the best framework for an efficient Environmental Management system (EMS). It provides a guideline an organisation has to follow to ensure effective environmental performance.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) defines an environmental management system as “part of the management system used to manage environmental aspects, fulfill compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities.”

The ISO 14001 framework is mostly used within a plan-do-check-act (PDCA) to ensure regular performance improvement.

ISO 14001 is a voluntary standard in the ISO14000 family of standards in Environmental management that organisations certify to. When integrated with other management standards, ISO 14001 can help achieve organisational goals.

ISO 14001 is most popular in the family and is the only one in which an organisation can be certified.

It establishes requirements for an Environmental Management System (EMS) and is based on the continuous improvement model PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

It is related to environmental management that exists to help organisations minimise how their operations negatively affect the environment, implement applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements and continually improve in it.

Components of ISO 14001

  • Environmental policy
  • Planning
  • Implementation and operation
  • Checking and corrective action
  • Management review

ISO 14001 Framework

The ISO 14001 framework consist of the following:

  • Context of the organization
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Improvement

ISO 14001 helps in the implementation and design of environmental management systems (EMS).

ISO 14001 provides guidelines for creating an environmental management system so as important elements needed for an EMS to be successful will not be missed.

ISO 14001 assists organisations with a framework integrated into the managerial system for the reduction in environmental impacts. It improves project performance yielding economic benefits.

It helps improve conformity to legislative and regulatory requirements. ISO 14001 helps in both the improvement of the company’s performance and the achievement of environmental sustainability.

ISO 14001 has evolved over the years. With its inception in 1996, there have been two more reviews to the ISO 14001 standard in 2004 and 2015.

The ISO 14001:2015 being the latest helps organizations in the achievement of intended outcomes in their environmental management system, providing value for the environment, the organization itself and other parties.

Consistent with the organization’s environmental policy, the intended outcomes of an environmental management system include:

  • Enhancement of environmental performance;
  • Fulfillment of compliance obligations;
  • Achievement of environmental objectives.

ISO 14001:2015 can be used in whole or in part to systematically improve environmental management. There cannot be optimum conformity to ISO 14001:2015 except the standard is incorporated into the organization’s environmental management system (EMS).

ISO 14001 helps in the long term viability of a company. They provide a good competitive advantage against companies not adopting the standard.

This helps improve company value and improved public perception of the company putting them in a better position in the international market.

Using ISO 14001 makes customers and prospective employees see the company as innovative and a company that sees the environment and a top priority. It also helps reduce trade barriers between companies and attract big investors to the company.

2. Eco-Management Auditing Scheme

What is an Eco-Management Auditing Scheme?

According to the European Commission,

“The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a premium management instrument developed by the European Commission for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report, and improve their environmental performance.

EMAS is open to every type of organisation eager to improve its environmental performance. It spans all economic and service sectors and is applicable worldwide.”

Since the revision of the EMAS Regulation, companies could easily comply with Environmental Management Systems such as ISO 14001 to step up to EMAS.

According to the European Commission, EMAS stands for…

  • “Performance: EMAS supports organisations in finding the right tools to improve their environmental performance. Participating organisations voluntarily commit to both evaluating and reducing their environmental impact.
  • Credibility: Third-party verification guarantees the external and independent nature of the EMAS registration process.
  • Transparency: Providing publicly available information on an organisation’s environmental performance is an important aspect of EMAS. Organisations achieve greater transparency both externally through the environmental statement and internally through employees’ active involvement.”

Any company that has certification under the European Union’s (EU) Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) help increase its environmental performance and green image with efficient reporting. EMAS helps companies save their resources whilst meeting environmental requirements.

Eco-Management Auditing Scheme (EMAS) as one of the types of environmental management system can be applied by public authorities and the private sector, including large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and even micro-organisations.

The Eco-Management Auditing Scheme Verification Globally

Though the Eco-Management Auditing Scheme (EMAS) is under the European Commission, the EMAS’ Global mechanism has made the system very much available for worldwide use enabling multinational organisations to register their sites within, and outside of Europe.

If an organisation wants to set up procedures to assess and improve its environmental performance, it could be registered under their Eco-Management Auditing Scheme (EMAS).

The requirements include:

  • Legal compliance with all environmental legislation, checked by a verifier and approved by local public authorities
  • Continuous improvement of environmental performance
  • Verification of the performance by a specifically accredited environmental verifier
  • Publication of key environmental data in an annual report, the environment statement

The Eco-Management Auditing Scheme enhances the public perception of organisations participates through its environmental statement that can be accessed by the public.

Companies under the Eco-Management Auditing Scheme enjoys a wide range of benefits, including various legal privileges at a national level that are exclusive to EMAS-registered organisations.

3. ISO 14005

Contained in this document is the guideline for the phased approach in the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an Environmental Management System. It is also used to evaluate environmental performance.

This standard is one of the types of environmental management system and it shows the guidelines for implementation of the Environmental Management System (EMS) in a flexible manner.

Being first published in 2010 and has updated in 2016 and 2019, ISO 14005 was created by the International Organisation of Standards (ISO) but was revised after consultation with the National Member Bodies (NMB)

ISO 14005 was revised with the overall aim to encourage and guide the implementation of an Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001:2015.

The ISO 14005 was revised in order to quench the taste of interested parties as a result of environmental impacts.

This helps the organisation to respond appropriately to these environmental issues and impacts in order to achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance.

Using the ISO 14005 the phased approach for the implementation of EMS allows an organization to develop its Environmental Management System relating it to Environmental issues.

The ISO 14005 standard is flexible allowing Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to adopt this standard to improve their environmental performance. This phased approach is applied to meet the ISO 14001 standard.

ISO 14005 flexibility has made it applicable to any organization irrespective of their current environmental performance, the nature of the activities undertaken or the locations at which they occur.

Regardless of this flexibility, many organisations are still not reaping the benefits released by the standard majorly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This is because they still lack an official Environmental Management System (EMS) and related resources making it very difficult for some organisations to implement an EMS.


1. What is the aim and purpose of an environmental management system?

The purpose of an environmental management system is that the system is used for managing environmental issues to ensure the safety of the environment and at the same time improve the organisation’s economic performance and companies efficiency.

2. Elements/Components of an environmental management system

Basic Elements/Components of an EMS include the following:

  • Reviewing the organisation’s environmental goals;
  • Analyzing its environmental impacts and legal requirements (or compliance obligations);
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets to reduce environmental impacts and comply with legal requirements (or compliance obligations);
  • Establishing programs to meet these objectives and targets;
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives;
  • Ensuring employees’ environmental awareness and competence; and,
  • Reviewing the progress of the EMS and making improvements.


Editor at EnvironmentGo! | providenceamaechi0@gmail.com | + posts

A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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