Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Pollution Prevention (P2)

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is defined as a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the actions that an organization takes to meet its environmental obligations. Most EMSs today are based on the recently issued ISO 14001 Standard. 

Pollution prevention (P2) is an integral component of an EMS. P2 allows flexibility, effective long-term planning and increases efficiency.

An EMS provides a framework for organizations or businesses that are interested in continually improving environmental performance. Through this framework, environmental stewardship becomes the responsibility of all employees - not just the environmental department - and is integrated into everyday business operations. EMS offers organizations a method and opportunity to systematically establish and achieve P2 objectives for superior environmental performance.

Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) is committed to helping companies reduce pollution at the source. OCAPP would like to help your company with the waste reduction components of your EMS. OCAPP has developed several programs that can help your company reduce waste and reduce costs.

Please see also: P2 and Quality, Information on Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM)

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the actions that an organization takes to meet its environmental obligations. An EMS is used to improve an organization's environmental performance and should be able to be objectively verified.

An effective EMS makes good business sense. It is ultimately less expensive to prevent pollution (P2) than to manage waste caused by pollution later on. Some manufacturers are now requiring their suppliers to have an EMS because it indicates a higher level of environmental commitment, which in turn ties into product quality and future liability concerns. Benefits of an EMS include:

  • Increased competitive advantage in the marketplace
  • Reduce liability
  • Improved environmental performance
  • Improved public image
  • Reduced production costs
  • Organized and accessible environmental records

Although an organization's management does not have to be certified in order for it to be considered an EMS, some organizations seek to obtain certification for their EMS. Some industries, such as the automotive industry, are encouraging certification of their suppliers. This may be done by using ISO 14000 as a guide to form the EMS and then working through a registrar to gain the certification.

ISO 14001 is the cornerstone of the ISO 14000 series. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established recognized quality management and environmental performance standards, beginning with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. ISO 14000 is a series of standards of an EMS. It specifies an EMS framework so an organization can get its program certified by a third party registrar.

According to ISO 14001, the EMS must contain an environmental policy, which states that the organization will implement the prevention of pollution, continual improvement and environmental compliance. The organization must identify environmental aspects of its operations and determine the impact they have on the environment.

Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) has taken a significant interest in encouraging companies to develop an EMS since they focus around environmental compliance and the prevention of pollution. OCAPP is committed to assisting organizations with reducing the waste at its source. As such, we offer our aid to organizations in their continual improvement to find ways to reduce their waste and prevent the pollution at its source. OCAPP can assist by providing technical information and conducting on-site assessments. For more information see On-site P2 Assessments.

An EMS is a process that encourages better organization of business priorities. An effective EMS helps to identify the causes of environmental problems and then eliminate them. It can save money by reducing waste, increasing efficiency and reducing costs associated with environmental compliance and liability. Not only does it focus on what environmental problems happen but also on why they happen. Over time, this systematic identification and correction of system deficiencies leads to better environmental compliance and better overall business performance.

Click here for "Environmental Management Systems: An Implementation Guide for Small and Medium-sized Organizations"

Click here for "Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001"

Basic ISO 14000 Information

  • ISO Online: Official website for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Provides information on gaining certification, background of ISO and limitations of using ISO in advertising.
  • International Organization for Standardization's official website for the subcommittee (SC) with responsibility for Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
  • ANSI site that provides updates on Technical Committee 207 and the ISO standards.
  • The Multi-state Working Group (MSWG) seeks to sustain long-term environmental improvement and integrate it into the nation's culture. MSWG was established in 1996 as a small, informal affiliation of regulators, businesses, environmentalists and scholars focused on studying Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) and their potential to achieve environmental results. Today, MSWG is a network of more than 800 participants in the United States and 12 other countries. It is a forum for determined change agents from all sectors who respect each other's views and want to go environmentally further than where MSWG is today.

ISO in Action

Ohio EPA Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) thanks the following companies for their generosity in sharing information on their Environmental Management Systems (EMS) with us:

Honda Transmission Manufacturing (Case Study, Russells Point, Ohio)

ABB Automation Inc. (Case Study, Columbus, Ohio)

Rockwell Automation (Twinsburg, Ohio)
Heidelberg Web Systems (Dayton, Ohio)
GM Powertrain (Defiance, Ohio)

Interested in telling us about your EMS program? Contact Bill Narotski.

Audit Information

U.S. EPA Environmental Management System (EMS) Information

  • U.S. EPA Environmental Management Systems (EMS) - Explains U.S. EPA's efforts in Environmental Management Systems.
  • EPA Standards Network Fact Sheet [PDF] - Link to U.S. EPA's Network, which formed to assist American National Standardization Institute in developing national standards for EMSs.
  • Environmental Law Institute - Program on Environmental Governance and Management - ELI's Program on Environmental Governance and Management works with state, local and federal policymakers and managers, as well as representatives of industry and environmental groups, to identify and promote approaches to managing both government agencies and private businesses that will achieve greater protection of the environment. Over the past 15 years, the program's goal has been to build the capacity of all involved parties for achieving improved environmental quality, preventing pollution and protecting natural resources.

Environmentl Management System (EMS) Related Agency Programs from Other States

Miscellaneous and Commercial Websites

International Sites

Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) is dedicated to helping your business locate sources of funding for pollution prevention (P2) projects. From low-interest loans to grants, our staff will make sure that your company gets whatever financial funding is available for your project.

Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention's (OCAPP) staff offer technical assistance to help you find the best pollution prevention (P2) technology available for your particular business or process. We can also assist you with waste exchanges and other P2 options that can reduce your regulatory burden.

Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) offers free P2 assessments. OCAPP technical assistance providers will come to your facility and review processes and practices and recommend any improvements or new technology that can assist you in implementing P2 and enhancing your Environmental Management System (EMS).