EMS4SMEs

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Irish EMS Information Portal for industry.

Here you will find a one stop shop of information and supports on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for Irish industry with a key focus on SMEs.

Click on these links to find out more:

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What is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?

  • All business activities have an impact on the environment. This can include the use of resources, energy, generation of waste and emissions to air and water.
  • Environmental Management (EM) is managing these environmental impacts.
  • An Environmental Management System (EMS) is the system an organisation can use to proactively understand and manage these impacts. This enables the company to conduct its activities while ensuring the associated environmental impacts are managed. This can bring business benefits in terms of cost savings, legal compliance and competitiveness.
  • The structure of an EMS is most commonly defined in the standard ISO 14001 or by the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) . Companies that develop an EMS in line with these can have the system certified. The benefit of a certified EMS is that is demonstrates that a company is managing its environmental performance in line with internationally accepted norms.

Do Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Need an EMS?
Environmental Management approaches apply to all businesses irrespective of size or industry sector. SMEs as well as large and Multi-National Corporations can gain business benefits and improve their environmental performance using these approaches.

Click on EMS Background for more information on EMS to include:

  • ISO14001
  • Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
  • EMS and IPPC Licensing
  • EMS Structure and Elements
  • EMS uptake worldwide and in Ireland

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What is the Business Case for EMS?

Increasingly stringent legislation as well as market and financial drivers for demonstrating good environmental business practices are creating a strong business case for Environmental Management.  Effectively managing environmental impacts can improve your company's profitability as well as environmental performance. Direct business benefits include:

  • Cost savings from reduced raw material and resource (energy & water) consumption;
  • Reduced waste collection, treatment and disposal costs especially in the case of hazardous waste;
  • Improved process control and product quality;
  • Ongoing compliance with legal obligations and reduced liability associated with poor environmental performance;
  • Improved relationships with key stakeholders e.g. customers, suppliers, shareholders, regulatory authorities and local communities;
  • Improved opportunities for marketing features leading to increased sales;
  • Expanding market opportunities;
  • Improved competitiveness;
  • Capability building;
  • Improved corporate reputation.

Other less obvious benefits can include reduced insurance premiums, increased employee motivation and an improved working environment. All of these measures will cut costs. Whatever stage you are at, investigating what environmental management can bring to your business will both benefit your bottom line and improve your relationships with key stakeholders such as financial institutions, customers and local communities.  Further information on the financial and market issues driving good environmental performance are outlined below.

Financial Issues
The more polluting the business, the higher the financial costs they will pay. These include increasing costs for utilities e.g. energy and the costs of waste collection, recovery, reuse, recycling or disposal. This provides a significant financial motivation to reduce these costs through resource efficiencies and waste prevention or minimisation. Typically the cost of wasted raw materials, water and energy etc. is 10 times the cost of waste disposal - so action to improve resource efficiency will usually lead to cost savings. For example, by improving the efficiency with which a business uses water and raw materials, it can cut the amount and concentration of effluent they produce and reduce the amount of waste that must be disposed of. In terms of products, 80% of the environmental impacts as well as its costs are determined at the design stage. Therefore, there are real opportunities for building in environmental and cost efficiencies at source when designing your products and services.

Market Issues
Pressure from customers to demonstrate good environmental performance is an increasing market driver for industry. This is particularly the case for Business to Business operations that experience this pressure from customers through the supply chain. Large organisations are increasingly requiring evidence of good environmental practices e.g. ISO14001 Environmental Management System certification from their suppliers, some specifying it as a prerequisite to doing business. Further, depending on the business, demonstrating sound environmental performance is key to maintaining a company's corporate reputation and market position.

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How to Get Started?

Use Approaches to Improving the Environmental Performance of your Business as a practical guide to get your Environmental Management System started.

Industry EMS Supports

  • Information
  • Technical Supports and Tools
  • Financial Aid
  • Less Formal EMS & Networks
  • EMS Consultancy
  • Training/Education
  • Awards
  • EMS Certification Bodies/EMAS Competent Authority
  • Other EMS related organisations

There are a range of EMS related supports available for industry in Ireland. Click on the links below for information on these and associated organisations:-

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EMS Uptake Statistics

Ireland
As of January 2005, approximately 290 industrial sites have ISO 14001, and 8 are accredited to EMAS. In the public sector, the Irish Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is certified to ISO14001. Growth in non certified "less formal" EMS is also being seen in Irish companies. 

Worldwide 
Up to the end of December 2013, at least 301 647 ISO 14001:2004 certificates had been issued in 171 countries worldwide  (Source: ISO14001 Survey, 2013).

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