Implementing an EMS: Why bother?
If you can stand to watch the news at the moment, you may have noticed an attitude shift in the way the world’s leaders approach the environment, and many people now feel it has taken a backseat to make room for more pressing issues.
Implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) costs money and takes time and like every business investment, these factors can make or break a proposal. Economic uncertainty looms over many organizations, large and small, and the perceived significance of protecting the environment falls.
The benefits to the environment of implementing an EMS are obvious: decreased pollution, decreased resource depletion, environmental awareness, less waste to landfill and so on. However, if the environment isn’t at the top of your agenda, how does an EMS fit in to your organizations future?
Implementing an EMS makes good business sense. An EMS is all about assessing and reducing risk; be that risk to you FROM the environment or the risk you pose TO the environment. From these risks, opportunities for your organization arise. Investing in risk mitigation reduces costs when things go wrong, but also reduces the likelihood of these things going wrong in the first place.
If you are searching for the benefits of implementing an EMS, look no further:
1. Opportunity to reduce utility bills
The most environmentally friendly way to do something is often also the most resource/fuel-efficient, and through an EMS, many opportunities will arise to reduce utility bills, by reducing gas, electricity and water use. You may also save on vehicle fuel use. When you assess your aspects and impacts, you may find that, for example, it would be both more environmentally friendly, and more cost-effective, to change the type of lighting used to LED lighting. You may wish to set a target of changing all lighting within one work area to LED, followed by another work area and so on. This allows you to see your energy savings over time and monitor and measure them.
2. Waste minimization
An EMS provides opportunities to improve resource use, by reducing waste and therefore the need to buy more and use more resources. This can be done by evaluating the current waste use in the organization, setting targets and implementing operational controls. If waste disposal presents costs to your organization, this is one less thing to worry about.
3. Increased efficiency
Implementing an EMS involves taking a good look at the way your organization operates. You may find areas in which you can improve efficiency and ways you can become more organised.
4. Stand out during tender applications
Procuring parties increasingly require tenderers to demonstrate sustainable business practices. An EMS is the perfect way to demonstrate that you are aware of your environmental responsibilities and you have taken action to reduce your impact on the environment. This demonstrates that you are a ‘safe pair of hands’ to work with and you share the same values as their organization. It is now often a requirement for tenderers, particularly within the construction industry, to be certified to ISO 14001 and without such a certification, a tender application may not be considered.
5. Brand enhancement
The award of a certified system can be publicised internally and externally. Achieving a certified standard can be highly motivational for those involved and it gives your organization a reputation for doing good and being a positive force in your industry.
6. Reduced risk of prosecution
Surprisingly, being fined is expensive, and with fines of up to £20 million being issued by the Environment Agency (bbc.co.uk), it pays to make sure you are not intentionally or unintentionally breaking the law. As part of an EMS, you will evaluate your legal compliance obligations and this means you will be made fully aware of the law and how you can take action to ensure you are following it.
7. Preparedness and reduced loss
Regardless of your beliefs on climate change, it cannot be argued that we experience some pretty weird weather at times. Strong winds, flash flooding and snow falls can often grind the country to a halt. An EMS prepares you for this: you will plan what to do in such an occasion to reduce damage to your organization, meaning that when these events occur, there will be a much reduced amount of loss to property and reduced interference with logistical operations.
If you are part of a team, and you want to implement an EMS but are receiving little enthusiasm from those with the decision-making power, try showing them these points. They may start to change their mind.
This article has been authored by Judith Dix at ESP Ltd for use on the NQA Certification Ltd website. ESP Ltd is listed as a trusted and valued consultancy organization on NQA’s Associate Consultant Register. To find out more please click here.