Implementing an environmental management system

Plans to restore nature, improve environmental quality, and increase the prosperity of our country will be set out by the government today (Tuesday 31st January) as it publishes its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023.

Businesses are increasingly looking for effective environmental management systems because they are one of the most effective ways to reduce an organisation’s environmental impact.

Regardless of their size, location, industry, or point in the environmental journey, all organisations can gain from establishing an Environmental Management System (EMS) such as ISO 14001.

ISO 14001 outlines a process that a business or organisation can use to establish a successful environmental management system. This popular certification offers advice on how to take into account a variety of business operations, including product creation, manufacturing, storage, and distribution. It also motivates you to assess how you handle emergency response and stakeholder expectations.

Depending on how your organisation now functions, the process may just entail recording what and how you do, or it might entail several adjustments that could lead to a more efficient business, cost or waste reductions, and stakeholder peace of mind.

What is the purpose of an environmental management system?

An organisation may track, manage, and constantly improve its environmental performance with the aid of an environmental management system. Businesses generally implement an environmental management system to organise their environmental strategy, using the framework as an organising principle.

Environmental management systems can be used to lessen an organisation’s negative environmental effects and increase operational effectiveness while proving to stakeholders and other interested parties that actual action is being taken.

An environmental management system is designed to support organisations in identifying, managing, overseeing, and controlling their environmental performance holistically. To establish the context of your environmental impact, for instance, risk assessments will be conducted. Then, precautions will be taken and methods will be implemented to help control these risks. We can support businesses in carrying out those risk assessments and identifying any environmental risks that may be applicable.

An organisation will take into account all environmental challenges that are pertinent to its operations by establishing an environmental management system. This covers a range of factors, including but not restricted to resource utilisation, energy and water use, waste production, carbon emissions, and efficient local biodiversity. Compliant can also provide templates to record and update risks and mitigating actions as forms of evidence for audit days.

Implementing an environmental management system

Environmental management system: ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is the most frequently utilised and most generally recognised standard in environmental management.

The standard is issued by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), a global organisation that develops and disseminates internationally recognised standards.

Instead of setting environmental performance requirements, it offers a strong foundation for putting an environmental management system into place. Even if you do not want to be certified, it is advantageous to adhere to this standard’s architecture when putting an EMS in place.

With the goal of ensuring continuous improvement in an organisation’s environmental performance, the ISO14001 certification promotes the application of the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) methodology.

We also recommend the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach for managing environmental actions. This popular approach can help you:

  1. Set a clear direction for your business with regards to environmental;
  2. Ensure that every member of staff is accountable;
  3. Treat environmental management as an integral part of good management generally, rather than as a stand-alone system;
  4. Achieve a balance between the systems and behavioural aspects of management.

How to develop an environmental management system

The Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have developed advice on how to develop a management system and keep it up to date so that you can carry out activities under an environmental permit. Information found on the website explains that:

“Your environmental permit requires you to have a written management system. This is a set of procedures describing what you will do to minimise the risk of pollution from the activities covered by your permit.

If you have a waste permit that was granted before 6 April 2008 that does not require you to have a working plan or management system, you will still need to manage and operate your waste activity in line with a written management system.

If you are applying for:

  • a standard rules permit, the risks are identified in the generic risk assessment
  • a bespoke permit, you will have identified the risks by carrying out your risk assessment

Your risk assessment will be part of your management system.”

Organising your environmental management system

Depending on how complicated and risky your actions are, you will require a different quantity of information in your management system.

A simple management system is appropriate if your permit is for low-risk operations, such as a small sewage treatment facility.

A comprehensive management system can include all of your permits if you have a lot of them. At other authorised sites, you may perform specified tasks in the same way while also having site-specific protocols.

You must be able to describe the events that take place at each location and the components of the general management system that are relevant. For instance, due to their proximity to sensitive areas, some sites may require you to demonstrate that you are taking further precautions to prevent pollution.

Our BSI trained Lead Auditors can offer advice on the quantity of information that you will need within your environmental management system and how to effectively record information.

What are the benefits of an environmental management system?

An environmental management system, if put into place, will assist your company in achieving:

  1. Compliance: Environmental standards can be complied with by using an environmental management system built on industry-recognised best practices for environmental management, including those described in ISO 14001.
  2. Cost savings: An environmental management system can not only lower the amount of resources used by your company, but also streamline your workflows and procedures. This can result in reduced transportation and purchase costs, increased production, and a reduction in product loss from spoilage or error.
  3. Scalable, sustainable growth: Good environmental management may be profitable for business. The recurring cost savings that come with a cycle of continuous improvement put your company in a better position to handle the difficulties of growing your market share or entering new regions.
  4. A better reputation: In recent years, environmental issues have gained prominence as a result of increased knowledge among legal bodies, investors, customers, employees, and the general public. To guarantee that the environment is safeguarded for future generations, the world community is investigating measures to lessen environmental damage. Implementing a formal EMS increases staff and stakeholder participation and establishes you as an environmental leader in your industry.

Operations whilst embedding ISO 14001

Businesses are always looking for ways to assure stakeholders that operations are carried out cost-effectively and in compliance with all applicable environmental laws. They can do this by operating in accordance with ISO 14001’s criteria.

Implementing an environmental management system with Compliant can:

  1. Identify and reduce environmental risks; maximise resource efficiency, including the use of water and electricity; reduce waste; project a positive company image; identify cost-saving opportunities.
  2. Promote environmental issues among employees.
  3. Enhance the environmental performance on a constant basis.

But how do you get started with an environmental management system?

Getting started with an environmental management system?

Getting started with an environmental management system?

As part of our GAP Analysis and ongoing support we help businesses to identify and record environmental risks such as:


Initiatives for energy conservation and efficiency can be supported by simple monitoring and adjustments from staff and the use of renewable energy sources where applicable.

Consider things like automatic temperature monitoring and regulation to help consume less energy.

Think about investing in energy-efficient devices, as well as energy-efficient lighting within buildings. Carry out surveys and provide energy performance ratings in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations of 2012.


Ensure all of your buildings have recycling facilities for waste and urge staff members to reduce waste by following waste hierarchy instructions. Include recycling facilities for:

  • Paper,
  • cardboard,
  • glass jars & bottles,
  • tins/cans,

Some larger workplaces may need to include in-vessel composters that allow food waste to be recycled. This improves the effectiveness of services provided, uses less resources, and less waste is disposed of.


Consider flexible working to give staff members the freedom to carry out their responsibilities in a way that minimises travel time so that they can spend more time providing services.

This could also double up as reduced emissions through travel. Promote shared travelling where necessary and public transport too.

We can support your business within implementing all of the recommendations above and offer an ‘Aspects and Impacts’ register as part of our management system pack.

Considering investing in more than an environmental management system?

We deliver integrated management systems that helps businesses to implement more than one management system at a time.

An integrated management system combines all aspects of an organisation’s systems, processes, and standards. This integration allows for a much more streamlined approach and can be a cost-effective way of becoming certified.

Clients who partner with Compliant for one or more of their UKAS accredited ISO certifications often make the transition to an integrated management system. The benefits include:

  • Costs and time needed to implement and maintain various management systems are significantly reduced,
  • Procedures are streamlined and productivity increased,
  • Aligned systems ensure consistency across the board.

Our ISO certifications include ISO 9001; Quality, ISO 45001; Health and Safety, ISO 27001; Information Security and ISO 22301; Business Continuity.

Our ‘integrated management system’ article explores the benefits of implementing more than one standard at one time and how Compliant can help you on your journey. View the full article here.

Winning contracts with ISO certification

An environmental management system in practice

Even the tiniest changes can have a big impact, like cutting back on waste production or using resources more wisely.

There is also a communal outcome: if everyone and every organisation felt they could contribute in a meaningful way, then significant environmental protection progress would be made.

When an environmental management system is implemented, we can observe this at the organisational level. From the ground level up, staff members collaborate to produce significant savings and other advantages.

Implementing an Environmental Management System will first and foremost assist a company in taking the essential actions to manage environmental risks and pursue continuous improvement.

The implementation of required controls and obtaining independent audits will show that all existing and upcoming statutory obligations have been met. Compliant has professional partnerships with all of the major certification bodies and can pass cost savings from these partnerships directly onto clients. 

If done right, implementing an environmental management system may elevate environmental issues to a core value inside your company, increasing leadership and employee commitment to your sustainability path.

The cost on implementing ISO 14001

Costs to obtain ISO certification can vary, there are various project costs that can be influenced, many of which are under your control. The cost of certification is significantly influenced by the size and complexity of your business. Limiting the scope is one method of helping to manage the size.

Companies should be aware that the scope has a direct impact on the cost of certification, even though this should always be done for the benefit of the business’s planned goals. For instance, more branches and locations mean more audit days, so carefully weigh the advantages of including all branch offices.

Keeping the days required by an external auditor from a certification body to a minimum will keep costs down. Not only will it reduce the number of days that you have to pay a certification body, but it will also reduce the number of days that an ISO consultant is required.

As part of our ongoing support package an ISO auditor will be present on all of your audit days and available throughout the year for support and  guidance.

Getting started with ISO 14001

Compliant can get a company through ISO 14001 certification in just 14 days. However, we recommend an initial 6-week period to enable time for discussions, implementation and making the management system bespoke to the individual company.

We then move onto a stage 1 audit with our chosen UKAS certified certification body. Compliant ensures that clients are fully ready for stage 2 audits and ongoing surveillances. The stage 2 audit is always within 3 months of the stage 1 audit.

A 6-month period is our recommended allocation time for becoming ISO certified. If you would like to find out more about our ISO certification timescales and costs book your 15 minute ISO discovery call with our Sales and Marketing Manager now.

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