Environmental management systems: A step by step
Environmental management systems are an internal
system of procedures and reviews that seek to identify
and minimise the impacts of port operations. In
some cases environmental management systems have
been developed through an informal process simply
to provide a more strategic approach to ports’ existing
management procedures, in other cases they have
been developed to meet the International Standards
for environmental management systems ISO14001 or
the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
At present EMAS registration is restricted to companies
in the mining, manufacturing, utility or waste sectors,
although it is due for revision for implementation
in the year 2000. The specifications of EMAS are
changing to a more user-friendly format based on
ISO 14001 management systems. If a regulatory regime
comes into force then EMAS will be central to it,
and any voluntary system must achieve or approach
EMAS certification to be regarded as acceptable
For a company to be a registered EMAS site a number
of steps need to be implemented to create an audit
cycle (IEA 1998):
The company must have an overall
corporate environmental policy, this must be adopted
and reviewed at the highest level. It must contain
two central elements; a commitment to compliance
with all relevant environmental regulations; and
to continuous improvement of environmental performance.
The policy should be written down, and be readily
available to both staff and public.
The next step is to identify all the existing
environmental impacts, and determine how these
measure up to your stated policy and to environmental
regulations, to see which areas need improvement.
Following this, there needs to be specific targets
included in the environmental policy and prioritised.
The environmental programme exists to put the
policy into practice. Once the priorities have
been set, the programme has to be implemented,
with a description at every stage.
- Environmental Management System
The programme must be properly defined, and document
the responsibilities of everyone on the project
and the interrelations between key personnel.
It must be fully integrated into the company’s
existing management structure, and a senior manager
must maintain and implement the management system.
The programme’s progress must be audited at regular
intervals, some activities will need to be audited
more often than others, in the case of treatment
of effluents. The audits must be objective, systematic
and fully documented, and executed according to
the relevant parts of the ISO 14011 international
EMAS requires the company to issue a public statement
linked to the audit, outlining in clear and concise
language exactly how they have met their stated
objectives. The statement must include significant
changes since the last statement, a deadline for
the next validated statement and identification
of accredited verifier
Before publication, an accredited verifier who
is independent of the site’s auditor must validate
the environmental statement.
The cyclic process shown in the figure overleaf
will be repeated at suitable intervals, the intention
at all times is to maintain a continuous improvement
of environmental performance (IEA 1998)
The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
(Taken from: EMAS – An introductory guide for industry.
Department of the Environment, 1995).
PIANC has set up a Working Group
to develop a generic framework, which can be used
as a guide to implementing environmental management
in ports and related industries. The PIANC proposed
EMF (Environmental Management Framework) has four
main components; policy, plan, act and continual
improvement and is shown in the figure overleaf
(PIANC in prep).
Environmental management systems can be modified
to incorporate other action plans important when
dealing with the marine environment, such as biodiversity
action plans. The main elements of the environmental
management system are shown in the figure below,
namely environmental policy, planning, implementation
and operation, checking and corrective action, and
management review. There are five main steps to
follow during the planning, and implementation and
operation phases, which apply to all environment
and business considerations, not just biodiversity
planning. The first three steps improve understanding
of the important issues and the last two steps help
formulate a decision for action. It is important
that there is a clear chain of accountability and
responsibility for environmental matters throughout
any business (Earthwatch, 1998).
Taken from: Business and Biodiversity, Earthwatch