Do standardised environmental management systems (EMS) lead to improved environmental performance? This depends on to what extent these systems lead to changes in important flows of material and energy, which for manufacturing companies, in turn, mean that the product development process is important. Consequently, it appears vital to investigate the connection between EMS and ‘Design for the Environment’ (DFE), i.e. the connection between these management systems and concepts that deal with environmental issues in product development.
This paper presents product-oriented environmental management systems (POEMS), including characteristics of existing models, experiences from projects where these models have been tested and experiences concerning the product connection in ‘normal’ EMS. It includes a discussion of important factors influencing to what extent DFE activities are integrated into EMS and/or the outcome of such integration.
There are many motives for integrating the two concepts. Firstly, DFE thinking might enrich EMS by contributing with a life-cycle perspective. If EMS encompassed products' life cycles to a greater extent, they would be a better complement to the often facility-oriented legal requirements and authority control. Secondly, EMS might remove the pilot project character of DFE activities and lead to continuous improvement. Thirdly, integration could lead to successful co-operation, both internally and externally. However, existing studies show that there is a mixed picture concerning the extent ‘normal’ EMS currently encompass products.
2005. Vol. 13, no 4, 405-415 p.
Product oriented environmental management systems; POEMS; Design for the Environment; DFE; Eco-design; ISO 14001; EMAS