Environmental issues can be a competitive factor that set your company apart. Successful environmental issue control requires systematic planning, control and monitoring, i.e. environmental management. Environmental management is part of management in general and it can be supported by an environmental system.
If a company already implements a quality system or some other management system, adopting and building an environmental system will prove to be easy. The system can be built for the company’s own development and/or it can be used to apply for a certificate awarded by an outside operator.
With the help of environmental systems, companies can observe environmental issues in a controlled manner and present their control of environmental issues to outside parties, such as authorities and interest groups.
Environmental systems make companies:
Think about their goals in terms of environmental issues
Consider means of reducing and preventing environmental impacts
Determine the statutory duties related to controlling environmental issues
Determine responsibilities to control various operations within the company
Instruct their operations, which means that risk management is improved
Document their operations
Constantly improve their operations to become more environmentally friendly
The environmental management system standard ISO 14001 is one of the standards in series ISO 14000. ISO 14001 is suitable for organisations of various sizes and types, in both the public and private sectors.
The standard series is world-renowned. An international standard unifies operating methods and makes comparisons easier, and enables equal treatment between operators.
A system in compliance with the ISO 14001 standard can be certified. The certificate can be awarded by a company in the certification branch, of which some are accredited. The Finnish Accreditation Service FINAS (www.finas.fi) maintains a list of companies qualified for certification.
The environmental report is voluntary, whereas in the EMAS system, public reporting is a requirement.
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a voluntary environmental system for private and public administration enterprises and organisations. In the EMAS system, an organisation commits to abiding by environmental legislation, drafting a public environmental report and constantly improving its level of environmental protection. The EMAS system is based on an EU decree and is used in the EU and EEA countries. EMAS is comprised of an environmental system in accordance with the ISO 14001standard and an environmental report. EMAS is suitable for organisations of all sizes and types.
The Finnish Environment Institute registers EMAS organisations in Finland, and an outside auditor verifies that the system is functional. In connection with registration, the company/organisation receives an EMAS certificate and the EMAS logo that it can use in marketing, for example.
EMAS Easy is a simplified version of the EMAS. It is an environmental system aimed especially at small companies. It observes practical environmental protection and the requirements of the scheme are proportioned to the resources of small companies.
In the EMAS Easy system, companies conduct an environmental audit, where they assess environmental aspects in their operations, and an environmental system is created as based on the audit. The environmental system determines the environmental policy and confirms goals and operational procedures as well as training, monitoring and communications-based needs. The system is audited at intervals in order to monitor how the policy and the goals are progressing and to ensure that the requirements of environmental legislation are met. The company must draft a report on how the company has achieved the set goals as well as what the company’s environmental effects and future measures to constantly improve the level of environmental protection are.
EcoStart is a simplified environmental system for SMEs that is provided as a consulting service by ELY Centres. The EcoStart environmental system is implemented under the guidance of an environmental expert. The goal of EcoStart is to systematically streamline and develop the control of environmental issues in companies, especially material and energy efficiency.
The following outlines the EcoStart consulting service:
- Compiling initial information in the company
- Meetings with an expert (brainstorming)
- Drafting an environmental system with the help of an expert
- Follow-up after four to six months
You can find further information on the EcoStart consulting service at www.ecostart.fi or in the ELY Centre.