Environmental management systems
Environmental management has by now become a part of everyday management practices for many companies. Environmental management enables companies to approach environmental issues arising from developments, products, services and activities in a systematic manner.
Environmental management systems (EMS) can be implemented by organisations of all sizes and all areas of activity. EMSs may also be implemented by service companies, state bodies as well as non-profit associations.
Implementation of standardised environmental management systems such as ISO14001 and EMAS as well as non-formal EMSs (Green Office) are available in Estonia.
An environmental management system is part of the everyday management activity of an organisation, which helps it to constantly enhance its environmental and economic activity and reduce the risks and expenses concerning the environment, occupational health and work safety.
Companies that have successfully implemented and efficiently developed their environmental management systems benefit from more efficient process management, resource savings and mitigating negative environmental effects as well as from the prevention of environmental issues and various sanctions that could arise therefrom.
EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is meant for organisations that wish to assess and improve the efficiency of their environmental activity and to disclose it to the public as well. An environmental management system that complies with the EMAS also helps companies to systematically follow the principles of circular economy and implement these in everyday business. Pursuant to the principles of circular economy, companies could implement methods that help to increase resource efficiency in production, during use of the product as well as upon its disposal.
In order to implement EMAS, an organisation shall:
- bring its management system into compliance with the requirements of the EMAS regulation;
- compile an initial environmental overview, formulate an environmental policy and establish environmental targets;
- prepare an environmental report;
- have an independent verifier assess their environmental policy, environmental management system, auditing procedure and the compliance of the environmental report with the requirements of the EMAS regulation;
- send a verified report to the competent authority for registration;
- make the environmental report available to the public.
Benefits of implementing EMAS
- Economic reasons
Sustainable consumption and reuse of energy, water, raw materials, packaging materials and other resources helps cut back on costs and find new opportunities for savings. The CFO of the company can, first and foremost, rejoice at the initial stages of implementing the environmental management system, as the economic savings often exceed even the wildest prognoses. A well-functioning environmental management system helps prevent and manage environmental risks arising from business activity, thereby also mitigating damages arising due to accidents and emergencies, the economic consequences of which may often be fatal to companies.
- Relations with authorities
Organisations that implement environmental management systems are better perceived by authorities. They demonstrate the ability to control their environmental impact through implementation of the environmental management system.
- Public procurements and supply chains
More and more companies and state bodies have started to demand evidence from suppliers concerning efficient environmental activity, e.g. ISO 14001 certificate or presence of an EMAS registration.
- Demands of consumers
The amount of consumers who demand environmentally friendlier products is increasing each day. The market share of environmentally sound products is constantly growing and the environmental indicators of products are becoming an increasingly important selling point.
- Market value of the company
Efficient environment management generally increases the market value of a company upon its sale, purchase or merger. The performance of the environmental activity of large international companies is already being monitored, and it will certainly become a reality for small and middle-sized companies in the future as well.
- Forward-looking management
A well-functioning environmental management system facilitates collection and processing of relevant and up-to-date information and taking justified management decisions. The management system makes the information necessary for smooth communications more easily accessible to employees, business partners as well as other interest groups.
- Quality of products and services
Implementation of environmental management methods is a natural expansion of quality management. Management areas complement each other and consumers demand compliance with both standards.
- Technological development and innovation
Voluntary improvement of the environmental activity of the company often results in various new attitudes and ideas, such as innovative solutions in production technology and in product or service development.
- Financial and credit institutions
Having an environmental management system may facilitate granting of foreign funding or a reduction in insurance premiums. Companies that have implemented all possible preventive environmental safety measures have significantly reduced their risk of accidents and are thus generally treated more favourably by financial institutions.
- Employee motivation
Improvement of the environmental performance of the company increases the self-awareness of employees. People prefer to work at an environmentally sound organisation which offers training courses and values qualified labour, and employers who consider environmental aspects are more valued among employees.
- Health of employees and residents
Diligent execution of environmental and safety requirements (e.g. during handling of dangerous goods and products), implementation of preventive measures and various similar activities have a direct impact on the quality of the work and living environment.
A functional environmental management system, one part of which is openness and regular exchange of information between all interest groups, ensures harmonious coexistence with the neighbourhood as well as the residents thereof.
- Sustainable development
Improvement and preservation of the environment must be ensured. There is a lot that can be done in terms of using natural resources more efficiently and reducing excess spending as well as having a more responsible attitude.
Companies can apply for a grant for the implementation of environmental management systems under the environment programme of the Environmental Investment Centre.
The grants are divided into two:
- for implementation of a non-formal environmental management system (e.g. Green Office) under the circular economy programme;
- for implementation of the certified environmental management system EMAS under the circular economy programme.
EMAS certificates are issued by the Environment Agency.