ARCHIVE: Environmental management systems

Environmental management systems can be used by organisations in both the private and public sectors to help them reduce their environmental impacts, comply with relevant legislation, and demonstrate that they are managing their environmental risks and liabilities responsibly.

Defra has produced a Position Statement which sets out the Government's policy on EMSs, explains why the Government encourages wider take up of EMSs, outlines the main benefits of implementing an EMS and what role EMSs can play in stimulating organisations to adopt more sustainable practices as well as improve their environmental performance.

The Position Statement (PDF, 70 KB) identifies the main elements that are required for a good EMS, addresses the role of EMSs in regulation, the role of independent certification and the value of accreditation as well as considering future challenges for EMSs.

EMS standards
ISO 14001

Some organisations develop their own in-house systems which may be appropriate for their sector or size but most seek independent certification against the international standard ISO 14001 which specifies all the requirements necessary for a robust environmental management system. Copies of the standard can be obtained from the British Standards Institution at:

BS 8555

A new British Standard, BS 8555, was launched in 2004 to help organisations put in place a full EMS by taking a phased approach which breaks the implementation process down into stages. Copies of the standard can be obtained from the British Standards Institution An independent inspection scheme has been developed by the Institution of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) which offers accredited recognition for organisations evaluating and improving their environmental performance through the phased implementation process. Full details of the Acorn Inspection Scheme can be found at:

EMAS (EU Eco Management and Audit Scheme)

EMAS is a voluntary EU wide scheme which gives recognition to organisations who have implemented ISO 14001and produced a public statement about their performance. Copies of the EMAS Regulation, guidance documents and case studies can be found on the web site of the Competent Body at:

More details can found on the website of the European Commission's EMAS pages

Other information
ISO 14001

Details of companies who have been certified to ISO 14001 by Certification Bodies accredited by UKAS (United Accreditation Service) can be found on a searchable database at:


A full list of organisations registered for EMAS in the UK and a separate register of organisations in other Member States can be found at:

Certification bodies

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) maintains a register of accredited Certification Bodies which can be consulted on their web site at:

Support and guidance

Further information on Environmental Management System and guidance on implementing ISO 14001:

EMS and public sector

Guidance for public sector bodies can be obtained from:

See also:

  • EMS on Sustainable Development website

Kirklees Metropolitan Council has created a network of environmental cascade officers to support maintenance of the organisation’s EMS and disseminate environmental information and improvement across the authority. This role helps to ensure the environmental policy is fully understood by all staff, disseminate information on environmental impacts, share good practice on how to improve performance and stimulate employees to get involved.

KMC actively encourages other local authorities to set up similar networks with the aim of exchanging knowledge, expertise, guidance and implementation tools.

For more advice on how to set up and coordinate an ECO network in your local authority contact Adele Wiseman on 01484 223565 or email:

EMS research

The Environment Agency has carried out a study (remas) into the benefits of environmental management systems in the context of regulation. The study examines the performance of industrial sites regulated by IPPC and compares those that have a robust EMS with those that do not have an EMS. More information about remas, including newsletters, participating companies and the preliminary results of the study can be obtained from the remas website at:

Page last modified: 26 March 2008
Page published: 6 October 2005