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Course 790 - Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Developing Environmental Management Programs (EMP)

improvement project
Step 2: Develop a program.

The goal and end-product of the planning phase is a one or more written Environmental Management Programs (EMP) within the EMS. Each EMP contains formal detailed environmental policies, processes, procedures and practices explaining how the objectives and targets will be accomplished in a particular environmental area.

Here’s a list of sample Environmental Management Programs within the EMS you might include at your facility:

  • Air Emissions
  • Energy Use
  • Material Use - Paper Use
  • Waste – Purchasing Green Products
  • Waste - Zero Waste
  • Waste - Green Meetings
  • Water Use

Think of the EMP as a formal structured written document that describes an action plan to implement and achieve environmental objectives and targets. The EMP usually includes information on:

  • Responsible personnel,
  • means and methods
  • milestones and dates, and
  • measurements of success.

In other words, the EMP specifies who will do what, how they will do it, and by when they will do it.

Structure and Responsibility

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ISO 14001 requires that the relevant management and accountability structure be defined in this element. Top management is expected to ensure that resources are available so that the EMS can be implemented, maintained, and improved. These resources include human resources, organizational structure, financial and technological resources, and others as needed.

Roles, responsibilities, and authorities must be defined, documented and communicated as appropriate.

The organization must identify the Management Representative who is responsible to oversee the EMS and report to management on its operation. This person(s) ensures the EMS is established, implemented and maintained consistent with ISO 14001, and also reports to top management on the performance of the system including recommendations for improvement.

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To ensure the company's aspects and impacts are clearly defined and its objectives and targets can be met, it's useful to involve plant personnel which may be impacted by any changes. In addition, management must support the environmental policy and be willing to invest money and resources to achieve objectives and targets.

Resources may be required to support training for facility personnel, the purchase of new equipment, time for meetings, and hiring outside consultants. Ultimately, management is responsible for providing adequate resources and being involved in the development, review, and approval of objectives and targets.

Management should appoint an EMS coordinator. The EMS coordinator is the specific management representative responsible for ensuring that the EMS is established, implemented, and maintained in accordance with facility-specific requirements.

Compliance Obligations

This video is an interesting introduction to the RCRA.
(Click to play video)

Another important part of the planning phase is identifying Legal and Other Requirements. For this part of planning, a facility should develop a specific procedure that describes how the facility will identify legal and other requirements that apply to its operations.

You should develop a Legal and Other Requirements Procedure that describes how you gather information, analyze it, and identify the requirements that apply to your operations. Like other EMS procedures, it describes the who, what, where, when, why, and how for this activity.

At most large operations the facility is regulated primarily under the following three regulations:

  1. the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA),
  2. the Clean Air Act (CAA), and
  3. the Clean Water Act (CWA).

You should also identify any other requirements that organizations may voluntarily implement. For example, you may be adhering to the company's policy to implement pollution prevention, improve environmental performance through objectives and targets, and communicate with the public on our environmental management progress.

Sample Programs

Here are some good examples of written EMPs that you may want to use for ideas in your own EMP.

EMS Software Packages


Because EMS documents are updated on an ongoing basis, they should be kept electronically on an internal company database. You might ask if a software system necessary to develop and implement a functioning EMS. Some of software packages can be helpful in implementing an EMS, but they may not be necessary or appropriate for all facilities.

We recommend that you do thorough research before committing to any large purchase of an EMS software package. Depending on the size of the business and scope of the EMS, a fancy software package may not be necessary. You should get through the planning phase of your EMS before making decisions about what your particular needs are. Check out this website that lists top environmental software packages which might be appropriate for your EMS.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What is the goal and end-product of the EMS planning phase?

2. Which of the following is an area in which you would expect to develop an Environmental Management Program (EMP)?

3. The organization must identify _____ who is responsible to oversee the EMS and report to management on its operation.

4. Why is it important to involve plant personnel that may be impacted by any EMS changes?

5. At most large operations the facility is regulated primarily by which of the following environmental laws?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.