How does it work?

Becoming an environmental leader and achieving continuous improvement through EMAS is easy, thanks to ten steps and four key principles: Plan-Do-Check-Act!

Select each step:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


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Step 4: Implement your Environmental Management System (EMS).

By following the planning steps, you have gained an in-depth view on existing organisational infrastructure, management practices and procedures. Now it's time to take action and implement what you have learned from your environmental review. Here are a few guidelines:

  • You should make sure that the internal structure and processes of your organisation conform to the objectives and targets as declared in your environmental policy. If this is not the case, they should be adapted accordingly.
  • An environmental management system may be informal in nature, but it must have a formal structure. Although the top management has to take accountability for the effectiveness of the environmental management system, it must delegate appropriate tasks and responsibilities to individuals. For the system to operate well for all those involved, it is vital to know who does what – how, when and with what authority. These responsibilities must be in writing and formalised. It is also vital that one person is given full charge of the environmental management system. This person should be ultimately responsible for the EMS implementation and should provide feedback on its strengths and weaknesses and coordinate any needed improvements.
  • The effectiveness and benefits of your EMS will depend on the initial investments during this critical phase. As such, it is important to develop the staff in terms of competence by disseminating knowledge pertinent to good environmental management performance. In this vein, organisations should tailor training programmes and raise internal awareness to meet specific needs of both the organisation as a whole and individual employees. Involving employees in the different steps of the EMS will motivate them to participate in activities designed to benefit the organisation as a whole.
  • A trademark of EMAS is active employee participation. This can be achieved only through an interactive and transparent internal communication, which engages the entire workforce. Your EMS will constantly be evolving in line with your environmental policy – especially as your environmental performance objectives become more ambitious. Therefore, it is imperative to keep written records in order to maintain an accurate overview of your EMS's progress. Furthermore, by creating informative documents for your employees such as operational procedures, work instructions, etc., you can clarify current protocols and procedures, as well as minimize questions.
  • Your organisation will also ensure that documented information related to its EMS is properly identified and usable, under the right format, and that it is adequately protected and controlled.
  • An effective Operational Control is fundamental to identifying and planning of operations associated with significant environmental aspects, as it ensures coherence with your environmental policy and helps achieve your objectives and targets. Accordingly, Operational Control aims to improve daily working procedures or routines in order to address risks and opportunities associated with the organisation’s environmental aspects. Your Operational Control should focus on those risks and opportunities that help your organisation to ensure that its EMS can be effective, to prevent unwanted effects or accidents and to achieve continuous improvement of its environmental performance. These can include activities such as equipment maintenance or working with on-site contractors, suppliers or vendors. Don’t forget to adopt a lifecycle perspective when addressing risks and opportunities and to keep documentation of how you address them.

    Note: The tools 3 – Environmental Responsibilities and 4-Environmental Data, available on the page EMAS Implementation tools can help you implement your environment management system.