The implementation and operation of an environmental management system (EMS) is designed to ensure an organisation’s environmental policy, objectives and targets are achieved.

The intended outcomes of an EMS include:

  • enhancement of environmental performance

  • fulfilment of compliance obligations

  • achievement of environmental objectives.

Resources, responsibilities, documentation and operational control need to be taken into account for the EMS to function effectively. Organisations that are focused on the ISO 14001 certification process should consider leadership and other organisational roles and responsibilities presented in Clause 5 of the standard. A more in-depth description is presented in Clause 5 of ISO 14004:2016 guidance standard.

Clause 5.3 of ISO 14004:2015 indicates that top management leadership and commitment are essential to the successful implementation of an EMS. Managers should provide direction and ensure physical and financial resources are available, including training support where needed.

Responsibilities for other personnel include the following.

  • Developing environmental objectives and processes — managers.

  • Environmental aspects — product and process designers and operatives.

  • Monitoring EMS performance — environment manager.

  • Meeting compliance obligations — all managers.

  • Promoting environmental improvement — all managers.

  • Identifying customer and others’ expectations — communications team.

  • Requirements for suppliers — buyers.

  • Developing and maintaining accounting processes — accountants.

  • Conforming to EMS requirements — all staff whose work influences the EMS.

  • Reviewing effectiveness of the EMS — top management.

This topic works through the process of implementing and operating an EMS and the roles of those involved. It follows ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 standards and guidance.

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