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Implementation of Standardised Environmental Management Systems in Swedish Local Authorities; reasons, expectations and some outcomes
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2002 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, Vol. 5, no 6, 443-448 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental issues have become increasingly important in Swedish local authorities during the last decade. This has been shown as almost half of the local authorities are implementing environmental management systems (EMSs) in their organisations as a voluntary commitment to improve their environmental efforts. In the autumn 2000, a national postal survey to learn more about EMS implementation in Swedish local authorities was carried out. The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons behind Swedish local authorities’ EMS implementation, what the local authorities expect EMS implementation to bring to their organisations, what environmentally related outcomes they have observed, and how the EMS work is co-ordinated. Although Swedish local authorities often have ambitious plans for EMS implementation, few resources are allocated for this purpose, which means, in fact, that EMS implementation is not a high priority. Our study showed that the chief reason for implementing EMSs was of organisational origin (such as bringing order to the environmental efforts), although EMS implementation is often viewed as an environmental project. This paper also discusses the problems surrounding the fact that EMSs are viewed as projects and not as continuous processes that are integrated into the organisation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 5, no 6, 443-448 p.
Keyword [en]
Local authority; Environmental management system (EMS); EMAS; ISO 14001
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13595DOI: 10.1016/S1462-9011(02)00090-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-13595DiVA: diva2:21004
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02
In thesis
1. Local authorities' approaches to standardised environmental management systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local authorities' approaches to standardised environmental management systems
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim with this thesis is to create a broader understanding of how the EMS tool works in local authorities. This means to study whether EMS is a useful tool for managing the environmental impact from the local authorities' activities and by highlighting its strengths and weaknesses as a tool. EMS is a tool that is used on a voluntary basis that aims at improving organisations' environmental performance. There are several standards for designing EMSs; however, this thesis focuses on EMSs designed according to the principles of the international standard ISO 14001 and the EU regulation Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The standards are based on a wide range of requirements. If these requirements are fulfilled, the organisation can choose to get its EMS certified by a third party. The EMS tool is frequently used in the private sector, and it is sometimes argued that it is designed for private (industrial) organisations. However, local authorities worldwide have shown an increased interest in EMSs since the mid 1990s. The EMS use in the private sector has been subject to some critique. For example, there is a risk that the tool is used only to get another certificate in order to increase their legitimacy, which means that there is a risk that the environmental issues are neglected. Until now, little academic research has been conducted concerning EMS use in local authorities. Therefore, it is interesting to study what approaches local authorities have to EMSs.

Mainly Swedish local authorities have been studied for this thesis. Many Swedish local authorities have been using EMSs for a fairly long time, which means that they have a certain amount of experience from this using tool. The local authorities' approaches to EMS use have been studied from several perspectives using postal surveys, interviews, and case study methodology. This means that the research has a strong empirical foundation.

The EMS use in Swedish local authorities is fairly common, since almost half of them are in the process of implementing EMSs in all or some of their departments. The main reason for implementing EMSs is to improve the structure of their environmental management. The local authorities often use ISO 14001 and/or EMAS as inspiration and design the EMSs according to their local conditions and ambitions, thus certification of the EMSs is seldom an aim. Although many local authorities seem to use EMSs in a reflective and sensible way, several barriers or difficulties - for example, maintaining continuity and ensuring follow-up of the environmental improvements - have been discovered. Furthermore, the EMSs that are being implemented often exclude environmental impact related to their exercise of authority since it is difficult and abstract. Including environmental impact related to these activities is often seen as a matter of maturity. To develop the organisations' EMSs, internal and external communication and interaction is experienced as very important. Such issues contribute to the EMS maturity processes, since the local authorities find new inspiration, knowledge, and motivation to further develop the EMS processes and, as a consequence, improve their environmental performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för konstruktions- och produktionsteknik, 2005
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 939
Keyword
Environment, eco management and audit scheme, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-5045 (URN)91-85297-77-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-05-19, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02

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Emilsson (Gustafsson), SaraHjelm, Olof

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