Chapter 7: Improving Results
Provided by the International Finance Corporation
The EMS should be viewed as a dynamic process. The concept of continual improvement is the essence of the EMS. By continually reviewing the EMS environmental performance against its environmental objectives, targets and policies, opportunities for further improvement can be identified. As the companies change and grow, so do the environmental complexities and conditions as they affect the company's EMS.
The assessment team will present their appraisal findings and recommendations to top management, the environmental task group and the action team. Together, these groups review the results of the assessment and collect ideas and suggestions for a revised action plan, which ensures the continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of the EMS implementation. In this way, the company creates a loop of continuous improvement.
Elements of the Continual Improvement Process
- Identify opportunities for improving the environmental management system, which will lead to improved environmental performance
- Determine the cause or causes of nonconformance or deficiencies
- Develop and implement plans for corrective and preventive action to address causes as identified
- Verify the effectiveness of the corrective and preventive actions
- Document any changes in procedures from the process improvement
- Make comparisons to objectives and targets
After reviewing the assessment findings and gathering staff proposals, the environmental task group should write a new action plan.
Considerations for Creating a New Action Plan
- Were EMS objectives and targets achieved / partially achieved / not achieved at all?
- Were roles and responsibilities clearly defined and understood?
- Were resources applied appropriately?
- Were the EMS procedures effective?
- Has the EMS been monitored effectively and regularly?
- What measures need to be taken to bring about improvements?
An environmental policy's main purpose is to serve as the basis for EMS implementation. An environmental policy establishes the company's commitment to the environment and provides a framework for environmental performance, while stating the company's overall objectives. The company should keep its policy simple and clear, and ensure all employees are aware of it.
The company's top management must endorse the environmental policy, since commitment and support from the highest level of determining the policy is essential for the program's success. The environmental task group and employees can contribute to the process of determining the policy. Encourage everyone to share their suggestions. Environmental issues encompass quality, health and safety issues, and they should all be included in the environmental policy.
Considerations for Writing an Environmental Policy
- The company's mission and core values
- Support for continual improvement
- Pollution prevention
- Compliance with relevant laws and regulations
- Relevance to the organization's activities, products and services
- Reflection of objectives and targets
Points to Address in an Environmental Policy
- Minimization of negative environmental impacts in production, use and disposal
- Education and training of the workforce
- Reduction of waste and consumption levels of resources (materials, fuel and energy)
- Commitment to recovery and recycling
- Encouragement of support of the EMS by suppliers and contractors
- Involvement of all employees and local community
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