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Local authorities' approaches to standardised environmental management systems
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
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 [en]
Environment, eco management and audit scheme, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-5045ISBN: 91-85297-77-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-5045DiVA: diva2:21009
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
List of papers
1. Mapping Environmental Management Systems Initiatives in Swedish Local authorities - a national survey
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mapping Environmental Management Systems Initiatives in Swedish Local authorities - a national survey
2002 (English)In: Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Vol. 9, no 2, 107-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nearly half of all Swedish local authorities use environmental management systems (EMSs) in their environmental work. This was shown in the postal survey that is the basis for this paper. The survey was conducted in September 2000 among all 289 local authorities in Sweden, generating an 81% return rate. It was performed in order to gain an understanding of how common it is to implement EMSs in local authorities, how far in the EMS process they have come and what organizations are objects of EMS implementation. It proved to be primarily the technical organizations that have adopted this kind of work and it is most common that these kinds of organization use a third party validation. ISO 14001 is the most frequently used standard but, in general, standards are used only as guidelines when designing EMSs, which means that certification/registration is not an overall objective among Swedish local authorities.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13594 (URN)10.1002/csr.17 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02
2. Implementation of Standardised Environmental Management Systems in Swedish Local Authorities; reasons, expectations and some outcomes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Implementation of Standardised Environmental Management Systems in Swedish Local Authorities; reasons, expectations and some outcomes
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.

Keyword
Local authority; Environmental management system (EMS); EMAS; ISO 14001
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13595 (URN)10.1016/S1462-9011(02)00090-4 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02
3. Development of the Use of Standardised Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) in Local Authorities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development of the Use of Standardised Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) in Local Authorities
2005 (English)In: Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, ISSN 1535-3958, Vol. 12, no 3, 144-156 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Local authorities have used EMSs to structure their environmental efforts for some time now, and this paper studies the development over time of the use of EMSs in some Swedish local authorities. The analyses depart from three development indicators: dissemination of the EMS work, the progress in the EMS cycle and the use of EMS standards. The results show that EMSs are more widely used within the local authorities today compared with a few years ago. Before, it was mainly the technical sector that was subject to EMS implementation, but today there is a stronger emphasis on the successfulness of EMS implementation in departments within the soft sector. The study also shows that local authorities have shifted from using ISO 14001 and/or EMAS to using less formal, often locally adapted and designed standards. The paper concludes by discussing the usefulness of standards for EMS implementation in local authorities.

Keyword
local authority, EMS, dissemination, progress, use of standards
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13596 (URN)10.1002/csr.80 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02
4. Different Approaches to Standardized Environmental Management Systems in Local Authorities - Two Case Studies in Gothenburg and Newcastle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Different Approaches to Standardized Environmental Management Systems in Local Authorities - Two Case Studies in Gothenburg and Newcastle
2004 (English)In: Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, ISSN 1535-3958, Vol. 11, no 1, 48-60 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Local authorities have shown an increased interest in committing to voluntary environmental commitment. This paper analyses the use of one of them, standardized environmental management systems (EMSs). It examines how local authorities approach EMS implementation, using two case studies in two European cities, Newcastle City Council (UK) and Gothenburg City Council (Sweden). The research departs from four research topics: drivers; strategy for EMS implementation; integration, dissemination and acceptance; future development of the EMS work. The case study cities' EMS approaches are analysed starting from the three pillars of institutions: the regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive. The analyses reveal that both Newcastle and Gothenburg mainly use a normative approach to EMS implementation; however, there is a regulative inclination in Newcastle's approach. It has also been noted that there is a difference between the standards (e.g. ISO 14001 and EMAS) and the actual use of the standards. The standards are fairly regulative while the application of the standards varies from organization to organization.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13597 (URN)10.1002/csr.54 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02
5. Managing indirect environmental impact within local authorities' standardized environmental management systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing indirect environmental impact within local authorities' standardized environmental management systems
2007 (English)In: Local Environment, ISSN 1354-9839, Vol. 12, no 1, 73-86 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many local authorities use standardized environmental management systems (EMSs) to improve their environmental management. These authorities often find it difficult to manage environmental impact caused by their exercise of authority i.e. indirect environmental impact (IEI) within their EMSs. Since this is connected to their core activities, it is important to understand how IEI could be more efficiently managed with respect to EMS work. The purpose for this paper is to study if and how IEI could be managed within the framework of EMS. In this study we have identified two different approaches to managing IEI. Because managing IEI is complex, it is often ignored when initiating EMSs or managed by explicitly avoid mentioning the concept. Managing IEI is seen as a matter of maturity within the organization. The paper concludes with a discussion regarding a developed definition of IEI and how management of IEI could be facilitated.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13598 (URN)10.1080/13549830601098271 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2014-10-29
6. Potential Benefits of Combining Environmental Management Tools in a Local Authority Context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Potential Benefits of Combining Environmental Management Tools in a Local Authority Context
2004 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, ISSN 1464-3332, Vol. 6, no 2, 131-151 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Today, there are many environmental management tools available to support integration of environmental perspectives in decision-making processes. However, a single tool is seldom the answer to all queries. This paper shows potential benefits of using a combination of different environmental management tools in a local authority context. Three environmental management tools used in Swedish local authorities are examined — Substance Flow Analyses (SFA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) — from mainly a theoretical point-of-view. The tools are positioned according to their key characteristics, and their individual contribution to environmental management in local authorities is explored. For the local authorities, a combination of tools allows decision-makers to integrate experience from individual projects to overall environmental management, which helps decision-makers to deal with some of the challenges that different environmentalmanagement situations require.

Keyword
Substance flow analysis, strategic environmental assessment, environmental management systems, integration, environmental management, local authorities
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13599 (URN)10.1142/S1464333204001663 (DOI)
Available from: 2005-06-02 Created: 2005-06-02 Last updated: 2011-05-02

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