An Environmental Management System or EMS can be a powerful tool to help businesses improve their environmental performance and reduce their carbon footprint.
Many organisations implement an EMS to meet the requirements of certification to ISO14001, not necessarily to become a better environmental corporate citizen. However, they soon discover that implementing a robust EMS is beneficial and adds value to their business.
Benefits of an EMS can range depending on the processes undertaken in a business. For example, a construction company would be able to reduce their environmental impact on a much broader scale more so than say a consultancy firm. Every organisation can reduce their impact.
Let’s look at a few benefits to implementing an EMS.
Every organisation can reduce waste from the smallest of companies with a recycling program to larger companies who minimise waste through design innovations.
For example: Leanne’s Landscaping design and construct small public spaces like recreation or garden areas in hospitals. The company only uses recycled materials, and designs all the items such as seating and play equipment to be 100% recyclable or reusable at the end of their life. A full guide on how to recycle or reuse their products forms part of the handover of the job.
2. Maximise resources
Maximising your resources is closely aligned with waste reduction. When a business can get more than one use out of their raw material this has multiple benefits.
1. Waste reduction – The more you can use out of one source the less you will throw away. Decreasing waste transport costs and transport emissions and resulting in less landfill.
2. Increased Efficiency – Ordering 1 product instead of multiples can save time in the procurement process, reduce delivery costs and storage space needed.
3. Innovation – When you start to look at resources differently you start to see more possibilities.
All these have the added benefit of saving you money.
3. Minimise environmental risk
Environmental risks will differ from one industry and company to the next. Determining your environmental risks is a 2-part process.
1. Determining the activities your business performs which may have an impact on the environment. These are known as aspects.
2. The level of impact they can or do have. When determining impacts consideration must be given to the severity and longevity of the impact.
Let’s look at Sam’s Signs. Sam produces and places large advertising stickers on shopfront windows. Sam identified several environmental aspects including waste from the backing of the stickers he prints. These were not recyclable or biodegradable meaning they went into the bin and added to landfill. If Sam only did 1 job a day his impact would be quite low. Yet, Sam has 10 outlets with an average of 5 jobs a day, that’s 250 sticker backings going to waste every week, that’s well over 10,000 a year. The impact is now much higher.
Sam approached the manufacturer and they developed a biodegradable alternative that is designed to breakdown after 5 years of exposure to moisture. Now the impact is shorter term and thus is significantly reduced.
4. Improve sustainability
How much does your business currently rely on natural resources?
You might have a fleet of cars using petroleum. Can you change to hybrids? Your admin team might still print a copy of every document sent by email. Paperless systems are far more effective and efficient. How water or power hungry is your business? A water tank or solar at your business premises may also save you money.
Check out what your competitors are doing. By implementing just a few sustainability improvements you can gain an edge and stay in front of rising costs giving your business a greater chance of long-term success.
Your business may already be certified to other standards such as Quality ISO9001 or Safety AS/NZS4801. Environmental certification may give your business further credibility and help you become a leader in your industry.
If your business mostly tenders for work you may be missing out on jobs if you aren’t certified. Organisations who engage you want to reduce their overall risk- this includes environmental risk. Engaging a company that holds third party certification is far more attractive than one who doesn’t.
Whether you choose to implement a stand-alone EMS, integrate it with another management system, gain certification or just implement a few key elements your business will benefit.
If you would like to know more about developing, implementing or auditing your system contact us today to find out how we can help.