Ever considered an environmental management system (EMS) for your business?
The term EMS can create mixed opinions, especially regarding the uncertainty of whether an EMS is relevant for your organisation, and many people attach it to an accreditation scheme. Certification is the best practice for any business but an EMS can have benefits in other ways.
The purpose of an EMS is to provide a framework for businesses to manage their environmental impacts. This framework is relevant to all businesses and can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be, but the most important point is that you are managing them, regardless of how you do it. We all know that a business cannot work if there is not adequate management. The same is true for saving money through resource management. If you do not manage your resources, you can never expect to make any improvements which can save you money. Once you have the basis of a management system in place, you will be able to identify actions that will help to reduce the number of resources you use, saving your business money. Developing and improving your system over time can also lead to certification and of course, more money.
By following these simple steps, you can start to develop and introduce the foundation for a management system:
Step 1 – Identify the resources you use and monitor them
We all use resources - electric, water, fuel, paper, etc. Put in place a simple measurement process for each resource you use. This could be six-monthly, quarterly or every month. For certain resources, such as water, weekly monitoring could be considered for leak identification purposes. Capture and record the data for review.
Step 2 – Think about actions and log them
You may already be doing a lot, or you may not be doing anything - either way, by making note of all the things you are doing and all the things you are not doing, you can start to understand where improvements can be made. This could be as simple as turning lights off when you leave the room, shutting down computers at the end of the day, adjusting the timing on your heating, etc. Start simple to get the ball rolling, working up to larger requirements such as lagging pipes, completing thermal imaging for insulation improvements, changing lights to LED, etc.
Step 3 – Manage your waste
How is your waste managed on your site? Do you have a recycling system? Are you separating waste? Waste is a valuable resource and according to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, the true cost of waste can account for up to 4% of the turnover of a business. Start by looking at the bin structure of your business and ensure that any recyclable waste is separated, minimising the amount that is being sent to landfills. Landfill waste attracts higher costs compared to recycling per tonne and on average up to 80% of business waste can be recycled or diverted from landfills. Carrying out waste audits are a great way to understand the types of waste you have on-site and identify where improvements can be made.
Step 4 – Communication
Avoid taking on everything as an individual and instead take this on as an organisation. By engaging with your colleagues you will be able to share the workload and encourage behaviour change. By getting colleagues on board, you are more likely to make significant differences if everyone does just one little thing. Start off small with a low number of simple actions - no more than say one or two. Introduce new actions slowly over time and by the end of the year, you may find that everyone is actually doing a lot without realising it. Take your time and plan your progress. In addition, brainstorming with your colleagues will also help to identify problems and solutions to further improve resource efficiency.
Step 5 – Compare, review and make improvements
Recording data is more than just a paper exercise. It helps you to understand just how much you are using and where high levels of use exist. Periodically review and compare the level of resources used. This will help to show where reductions have been made and clarify if actions have been successful or if there are additional issues that need to be reviewed. Following each review, look to make improvements or introduce new ideas where appropriate.
These steps are not exhaustive but they will set the basic foundation that any business can take to improve their resource use and save money. Starting out small and working your way through this process is better than not doing anything at all. Over time the system can develop further, with additional elements, larger actions and eventually becoming certified to be recognised for your efforts.
An Environmental Management System can and will help you to understand your resource use, which will lead to better management and reductions, and most importantly – it will save you money. They do not need to be unwieldy and can be as inexpensive as you want them to be.
How can we help?
If you are unsure or perhaps not certain where to start, let us help. We offer small to medium-sized companies with less than 250 employees a fully-funded Resource Efficiency Audit, as well as up to twelve hours of support. This on-site audit includes a review of your resources to help you identify where improvements can be made. We can also help you to develop an action plan and start you on the path to resource efficiency improvements and reduced costs.
In addition, we are also offering a free ISO14001 Design and Implementation training course. This two-day course will cover the benefits to an EMS and help you to understand what is required to achieve ISO certification.
For more information, to book your free audit, or to find out dates for our next course, please call our Resource Efficiency Adviser David Knight on 07908 375557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.