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EMS: Operations
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
P2 Opportunities
Where To Go for P2 Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Environmental Management Systems: An Implementation Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Organizations (...
The 201-page primary US EPA manual on EMS, revised in 2001, is intended to provide a plain-English g...

Environmental Management Systems: Table of Contents
Table of contents for a good on-line only implementation manual with many organizational tips, examp...

IEMS: A Company Manual Template for Small Business
Access to downloadable, editable version of an example EMS manual for "Smith Company"

How does an EMS work?

An EMS is based on the classic Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle made popular in the Total Quality Management movement. It uses good business principles that are also found in most leading models for management systems. The EMS Matrix provides an excellent presentation showing the fundamental similarities of leading management models along with model language and descriptions of case studies.





  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Requirements and Voluntary Undertakings
  • Objectives and Targets


Environmental Policy:

  • Appropriate to nature, scale and impacts of activities
  • Commitment to continual improvement and pollution prevention
  • Commitment to comply with laws and regulations
  • Framework for setting, reviewing objectives and targets
  • Documented, implemented, maintained and communicated
  • Available to public


  • Environmental aspects
  • Legal and other requirements
  • Objectives and targets
  • Environmental management programs
  • Designation of responsibilities
  • Means and time frames for achieving objectives and targets


  • Structure, Responsibilities and Resources
  • Operational Control
  • Training, Awareness and Competence
  • Organizational Decision-making and Planning
  • Document Control

Implementation and Operation

  • Structure and Responsibility
    1. Ensure EMS standards are established, implemented, and maintained
    2. Report on EMS performance to top management
  • Training, Awareness and Competence
    1. Need for conformance
    2. Roles and responsibilities
    3. Consequences of non-conformance


  • Internal
  • External

EMS Documentation

  • Describe EMS requirements and interactions
  • Provide direction to related documentation
  • Document control


  • Review and revision
  • Availability of current versions
  • Removal of obsolete documents
  • Archiving of obsolete documents

Operational Control

  • General procedures to cover situations where absence of specific procedures could lead to deviation from EMS requirements
  • Operational criteria in procedures
  • Procedures for managing goods, services, suppliers, contractors

Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Develop, review and revise
  • Test


  • Corrective and Preventive Action and Emergency Procedures

Checking and Corrective Action

  • Monitoring and measurement
  • Non-conformance and corrective and preventive action
  • Records
  • EMS audit
    1. Conformance to EMS
    2. Implementation and maintenance


  • Continuous Evaluation and Improvement

Management Review

  • Provide results to management
  • Management review

There are numerous comprehensive manuals and implementation guides available for EMS. The ones written for small businesses provide a good starting place for the small and medium enterprise (SME – defined here as a manufacturing enterprise with less than 500 employees).

Finally, a valuable resource for any SME to consider when planning and implementing an EMS is the collective wisdom and experience of those SME peers who have already integrated an EMS with their business. Good resources include the collaborative organizations mentioned in the section of this topic hub. ISO 14000 Keys to Success presents dozens tips; other tips are offered by experts on topics that include Overcoming Obstacles to Implementation, and How to Help Small Business with EMS.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The EMS Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Southwest Network for Zero Waste
Southwest Network for Zero Waste
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 3/14/2012