Environmental Management Systems
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
EPA promotes the development and implementation of environmental management systems (EMS) within sectors because they enable manufacturing facilities to achieve improvements in environmental, health, and safety performance beyond government-required levels. An EMS is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing, and improving the processes and actions that a facility undertakes to meet its business and environmental goals.
An EMS weaves environmental decision making into the fabric of an organization’s overall business practices, facilitating compliance while improving performance. An EMS’s systematic approach allows organizations to be more efficient, more competitive, and better able to meet important challenges. While each EMS is unique, most follow the Plan-Do-Check-Act model:
- Planning, including identifying environmental aspects and establishing goals;
- Implementing, including training and operational controls;
- Checking, including monitoring and corrective action; and
- Reviewing, including progress reviews and acting to make needed changes to the EMS.
A Plan-Do-Check-Act approach establishes a framework to examine the environmental impacts of your facility—then to develop, implement, monitor, review, and revise environmental programs and procedures to continually promote improvement.
More EMS information:
- EPA's EMS web site provides information and resources related to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for businesses, associations, the public, and state and federal agencies.
- The Public Entity EMS Resource (PEER) Center provides EMS guidance, tools, and training. This resource links you to real-life mentors, technical assistance, and problem-solving strategies.
- A Guide to Developing an Environmental Management System for Metal Finishing Facilities (PDF) (53 pp, 863K, About PDF)
- Environmental Management Systems: Systematically Improving your Performance (PDF) (12 pp, 4.2MB, About PDF)
Sector Strategies, in association with numerous sector trade organizations and other stakeholders, has developed EMS Implementation Guides for several of the sectors in the Sector Strategies Program. These step-by-step guides describe a process for developing an EMS that is based on the ISO 14001 standard and reflect an emphasis on sustained compliance, pollution prevention, and information sharing with the community in which the facility is located. They provide detailed information to facilities and businesses interested in implementing an EMS and incorporate lessons learned and examples drawn from the experience of other businesses that have implemented an EMS. The EMS Implementation Guide can be the first step for facilities that do not have a process in place to weave environmental decision making and improvement into their daily processes and businesses.
EMS Implementation Guides
- Agribusiness (Meat Processing)
- Chemical Manufacturing
- Iron and Steel
- Metal Casting:
- Shipbuilding and Ship Repair
Sector Strategies released several brochures in 2003 and 2004 highlighting the benefits of EMS implementation at various industrial facilities. These business cases, titled Environmental Management Systems: Systematically Improving your Performance, were created in partnership with major trade associations from each industry.
Business cases are available for the following sectors: