Environmental management serves to ensure sustainable environmental compatibility of products and processes.
What is an Environmental Management System?
Approach and standards
The term environmental management system refers to a holistic and strategic framework with the introduction of which companies commit themselves to higher quality standards in the areas of eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness as well as environmental protection.
The two most significant environmental management systems are the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme and ISO 14001. These systems consist of many different subsystems. Among them are pollution control and waste management.
Benefits for companies
Implementing corporate environmental management successfully is a challenging task in any company.
But the effort is worthwile: Establishing an environmental management system, for example certified to ISO 14001 or EMAS, leads to a clear competitive advantage nowadays, since various stakeholders expect companies not only to commit themselves to sustainability, but also to implement environmental protection operationally.
Central Elements of Environmental Management
Regardless of the standard chosen, all environmental management systems have very similar key elements:
- Definition of environmental goals and strategies to reach them
- Quantification and evaluation of operational environmental performance
- Consideration of the entire life cycle of products (upstream and downstream environmental impacts)
- Planning, execution and control of tangible improvement measures
Environmental Management Standards
Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
Developed by the EU, EMAS is a system that organizations can use to improve their environmental performance. The following requirements apply in order to obtain an EU label:
- Continuous improvement of environmental performance
- Report on the achievement of environmental targets
- Validation by independent auditor (legal compliance)
ISO 14001 is part of the globally recognized family of environmental management standards. The focus is on the continuous improvement process. Components are:
- General requirements
- Environmental policy
- Implementation and execution
- Control and corrective actions
- Evaluation by top management
How to measure environmental performance?
You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
In order to define achievable environmental goals, knowledge about the current environmental performance should be available as a first step. The relevant environmental aspects must be made measurable. Especially for the quantification of environmental performance and a life cycle approach, numerous data, figures and facts have to be evaluated.
In order to make the strategy for achieving the targets verifiable, specific environmental indicators must be derived. In the EMAS environmental management system, for example, these are divided into six key areas:
- Energy efficiency
- Material efficiency
- Biological diversity
The first step is to check for all possible interfaces between a business and the environment. During the second step, these interfaces will be quantified.
Assessing environmental performance over the entire life cycle
Since the ISO 14001 revision in 2015, the quantification and evaluation of improvement measures is not only required on a site-specific basis, but also requires a life cycle perspective.
The aim is to consider not only the direct environmental impacts within the company, but also the indirect ones along the supply chain.
Our software for your environmental management system
Our goal is to support your environmental management system with professional software that can calculate environmental impacts over the entire life cycle of your products. With Umberto - the software support for your environmental management system - you can overcome various challenges:
- Support at every stage of ISO 14001: Umberto makes environmental performance and its improvement transparent to internal and external stakeholders at every stage
- Evaluation of options: Umberto forms the database for your decisions to achieve your reduction targets.
- Application in environmental audits (eco-audit): Umberto checks where your company has interfaces with the environment.
- Promotion of the continuous improvement process: Umberto helps you to achieve your environmental goals and documents your success towards ISO 14001 certification.
iPoint Product Sustainability
The issue of compliance is yet another requirement for an environmental management system. It focuses on compliance with government regulations, such as statutory thresholds for pollution.
iPoint Product Sustainability combines sustainability and compliance aspects for a comprehensive environmental management approach:
- Automation of life cycle assessment through predefined parameterized LCA Models using Umberto as calculation engine
- Integration in business worksflows e.g. through BOM Import and ERP interface (SAP)
- Combination of material compliance and sustainability information by the holistic iPoint Suite