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Environmental Management Systems

An Environmental Management System (EMS) can be an excellent tool for achieving meaningful environmental improvements, safer and healthier workplaces, and improved competitiveness. An EMS is a formal set of procedures and policies that defines how an organization will evaluate, manage, and track its environmental impacts. ISO 14001 is the international EMS standard. Partners can use the WasteWise goal setting and reporting process to strengthen an EMS and meet ISO 14001 certification requirements.

Integrating WasteWise into an EMS

WasteWise partners are ahead of the game when it comes to developing EMSs. Most organizations build their EMS on the circular "Plan, Do, Check, Act" model and take the following key actions:

With its emphasis on setting goals, assessing progress, and evaluating results, WasteWise provides a "Plan, Do, Check, Act" framework for solid waste reduction. Therefore, WasteWise can help partners craft the waste reduction aspects of an EMS.

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ISO 14001 Certification

WasteWise can also help partners achieve ISO 14001 certification. ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized, voluntary EMS standard. Partners can use waste reduction policies, goals, training, and reporting to meet the following ISO 14001 requirements:

Draft an environmental policy (ISO 14001 element 4.2)
WasteWise partners can establish policies that support:

Identify key environmental aspects (ISO 14001 element 4.3.1)
WasteWise encourages partners to conduct a waste assessment to establish a baseline and identify waste reduction opportunities.

Set objectives and targets (ISO 14001 element 4.3.3)
WasteWise partners must set waste reduction goals.

Establish a management program to achieve environmental objectives (ISO 14001 element 4.3.4)
WasteWise urges partners to obtain management support for waste reduction activities.

Establish program structure and determine responsibilities (ISO 14001 element 4.4.1)
WasteWise suggests that partners establish a green team with clearly defined responsibilities.

Establish training programs (ISO 14001 element 4.4.2)
WasteWise asks partners to train employees on their waste reduction responsibilities.

Establish a communication system (ISO 14001 element 4.4.3)
WasteWise encourages partners to communicate waste reduction plans and principles to management, employees, contractors, suppliers, customers, and other organizations. WasteWise also urges partners to solicit waste reduction suggestions from employees.

Monitor and measure program progress (ISO 14001 element 4.5.1)
WasteWise requires partners to measure and report on program progress annually.

Management must review program progress periodically (ISO 14001 element 4.5.2)
WasteWise partners must review program progress and set new waste reduction goals every year.

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WasteWise Update "Environmental Management Systems" (PDF) (12 pp, 1.1MB, About PDF)
January 2003 (No. 19)
This publication describes the structure and benefits of an EMS, presents case studies of successful EMS implementation by WasteWise partners, and includes a resource list.

EPA Environmental Management Systems Resource Center
This center provides EMS information and resources, including research reports, best-practice manuals, and EMS templates.

EPA's Environmental Management System
View the outline of EPA's EMS, which focuses on compliance, pollution prevention, purchasing, and public outreach.

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