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Do standardised environmental management systems lead to reduced environmental impacts?
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8323-881X
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase the understanding of the relationship between standardised environmental management systems (EMSs) and the environment, focusing on the use of such systems by companies and on systems in accordance with the ISO 14001 and/or EMAS standards. Another purpose is to investigate how standardised EMSs fit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to examine a special EMS solution called the Hackefors model, used by a group of SMEs, to find out how this model has affected the environmental efforts and business of these enterprises.

To gather knowledge on the connection between EMSs and environmental impacts, two main roads have been followed. Firstly, empirical studies (and a few literature reviews) have been conducted, among other things, aiming to clarify how the standards' requirements are interpreted and applied in reality, and uncover what this means in terms of environmental impacts. For the most part, external environmental auditors and environmental managers have been interviewed. An important purpose is to illuminate what an ISO 14001 certificate, or an EMAS registration, guarantees. This means that the minimum level is emphasised to a large extent. Secondly, a literature review has been conducted to collect knowledge on the selected issue from the international research arena. One intention is that this review will contribute information about the average use of EMSs and thus serve as a good complement to the empirical studies.

It has to be concluded that a standardised EMS does not guarantee a good environmental performance and defmitely not reduced environmental impacts. Without any doubt, EMSs can be used to structure and strengthen a company's environmental efforts, and many companies surely have achieved important reductions in terms of environmental impacts by using an EMS. However, the standards' formulations are very indistinct and they can be interpreted and applied in many different ways. It is clearly possible to be certified and registered without improving very much at all. The effects of EMSs are to a very large extent dependent on how companies choose to use them. To capture the potential that EMSs have, issues of credibility should be observed. Therefore, the thesis includes some recommendations in the form of discussion points.

The Hackefors model clearly can be used to overcome many of the common barriers forimplementing an EMS at SMEs. In the studied case, the EMS implementation had led to severalimportant environmental improvements and also to other types of improvements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2003. , 112 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 851
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30064Local ID: 15524ISBN: 91-7373-778-X (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-30064DiVA: diva2:250885
Public defence
2003-12-12, Sal C3, Hus C, Linköping Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2014-10-08
List of papers
1. Environmental management systems: scope assessment of environmental aspects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental management systems: scope assessment of environmental aspects
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to increase the understanding of how standardised environmental management systems (EMSs) affect environmental performance. Based on interviews with environmental managers from 18 different companies and two environmental consultants, we make clear how companies identify, formulate and assess their environmental aspects.

The results show that consultants have an important role concerning EMSs. Many of the environmental managers have deficient knowledge concerning their own EMS, since they cannot explain central EMS procedures. This can probably be explained by too much external assistance, from consultants, in combination with internal barriers such as lack of competence, time and motivation.

The characteristics of the companies’ assessment methods are presented, which among other things include which parameters are used and their relative weight. From an environmental point of view, it is positive that environmental parameters, in general, have a big influence. However it should also be noted that some of the companies use methods in which business parameters seem to dominate. Other important results show that most systems, overall, are facility oriented. In most cases it was difficult to understand the scope of individual aspects, for example, concerning what environmental impacts were considered. A majority of the environmental managers were rather uncertain about issues in relation to scope and system perspectives. Therefore, it is recommended that incentives be taken to increase environmental managers’ competence and to improve the standards, the guiding documents and the systems for their application.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87143 (URN)
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved
2. Products in environmental management systems: drivers, barriers and experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Products in environmental management systems: drivers, barriers and experiences
2005 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 13, no 4, 405-415 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Keyword
Product oriented environmental management systems; POEMS; Design for the Environment; DFE; Eco-design; ISO 14001; EMAS
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13541 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2003.12.005 (DOI)
Available from: 2004-12-07 Created: 2004-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-13
3. Products in environmental management systems: the role of auditors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Products in environmental management systems: the role of auditors
2005 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 13, no 4, 417-431 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For standardized environmental management systems (EMS) to be environmentally effective tools, they should affect important environmental aspects related to flows of materials and energy, which for manufacturing companies are closely connected to their products. This paper presents how external environmental auditors interpret and apply important product-related requirements of ISO 14001 at manufacturing companies in Sweden.

The results indicate that the link between EMS and products is rather weak. Products are seldom regarded as significant environmental aspects and are therefore not within the main scope of many EMS, which are mainly focused on sites. However, all of the interviewed auditors require that some kind of environmental considerations be incorporated into product development, but these considerations are to large extent site oriented; how they are prioritized in relation to other factors such as economics and other customer priorities appears to be up to the companies.

The paper includes some recommendations to strengthen the role of products within the framework of standardized EMS.

Keyword
Design for environment; DFE; Environmental management systems; EMS; ISO 14001; EMAS; Auditors
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13542 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2003.12.006 (DOI)
Available from: 2004-12-07 Created: 2004-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-13
4. Auditing external environmental auditors: investigating how ISO 14001 is interpreted and applied in reality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Auditing external environmental auditors: investigating how ISO 14001 is interpreted and applied in reality
2001 (English)In: Eco-Management and Auditing, ISSN 0968-9427, E-ISSN 1099-0925, Vol. 8, no 4, 183-192 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ISO 14001 standard leaves a lot to be interpreted by its users. As the standard is growing in popularity the external environmental auditors are becoming key players in the environmental arena. Through interpretations, they form the linkage between the standard document and its application in reality.

This study is based on interviews conducted with auditors representing all nine certification bodies in Sweden and at the board that accredits these firms. The paper presents how auditors interpret and apply central requirements of ISO 14001, with the aim to illuminate important issues from an environmental point of view.

It can be concluded that many important requirements are interpreted differently. There are disagreements regarding what criteria are approved when determining which environmental aspects are significant. Further on, the standard's requirement for continual improvement is normally transformed to improvements regarding a few ratios. The paper, amongst other issues, also deals with auditors' competence, their objectivity and their opinions about the efforts of certified organizations.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87142 (URN)10.1002/ema.165 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-06
5. Joint EMS and group certification: a cost-effective route for SMEs to achieve ISO 14001
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Joint EMS and group certification: a cost-effective route for SMEs to achieve ISO 14001
1999 (English)In: Greener Management International, ISSN 0966-9671, Vol. 28, 23-31 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an important group from an environmental point of view and they also have environmental requirements - including environmental management systems (EMSs) - imposed on them by larger companies. At Hackefors Industrial District in Sweden, 30 SMEs are co-operating on environmental issues; they have formed a network and established a joint EMS in accordance with ISO 14001. This is a unique strategy for the implementation of EMSs by SMEs. In this paper the EMS model used at Hackefors is presented and the resulting cost savings are analysed. Environmental improvements are also discussed briefly. It can be concluded that, by networking and implementing a joint EMS, the SMEs (mostly small and 'micro' enterprises) at Hackefors have established a rational and cost-effective solution that has facilitated both the implementation and maintenance of EMSs. Although the EMSs have only recently been certified, many environmental and commercial improvements have already been observed. Many of the companies have received positive responses from their customers and believe that the EMS improves their ability to obtain contracts relating to sales of products and/or services. Furthermore, the companies at Hackefors believe that having an EMS based on ISO 14001 results in positive commercial and environmental effects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Greenleaf Publishing Ltd, 1999
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87141 (URN)
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2014-10-08
6. Tracing business and environmental effects of environmental management systems: a study of networking small and medium-sized enterprises using a joint environmental management system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tracing business and environmental effects of environmental management systems: a study of networking small and medium-sized enterprises using a joint environmental management system
2003 (English)In: Business Strategy and the Environment, ISSN 0964-4733, E-ISSN 1099-0836, Vol. 12, no 3, 163-174 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Hackefors Industrial District in Sweden, 26 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have formed an environmental network and implemented a joint environmental management system (EMS) according to ISO 14001. Based on interviews with the environmental co-ordinators at these enterprises, the effects on business and environmental efforts and impacts are analysed.

It can be concluded that the joint EMS has resulted in better relations with important stakeholders, such as existing and potential customers. For example, three-fifths said that their EMS had made it easier to receive a contract for the sale of products and services. Several environmental improvements have been observed and are presented in the paper, many of which are considered as consequences of the EMSs. Moreover, based on observations during the study, this paper discusses how boundaries and screening affect the connection between EMSs and environmental performance.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30058 (URN)10.1002/bse.357 (DOI)15518 (Local ID)15518 (Archive number)15518 (OAI)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2017-12-13
7. The connection between environmental management systems and continual environmental performance improvements
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The connection between environmental management systems and continual environmental performance improvements
2002 (English)In: Corporate Environmental Strategy, ISSN 1066-7938, E-ISSN 1873-6912, Vol. 9, no 2, 183-192 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses the connection between standardized environmental management systems and environmental performance, based on a case study. By comparing the environmental reviews for a group of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) before and two years after their EMS implementation, we try to show how the environmental performance of these firms has developed and draw some conclusions regarding the connection between standardized EMSs and environmental performance in general.

The case study illuminates some central aspects of ISO 14001's requirement of continual improvement. Taken together with the literature on this issue, it is clear that in practice a set of indicators are established and monitored, indicators concerning operations as well as management efforts. Hence, the selection of indicators is crucial. External environmental auditors should compare the development of these indicators and determine if an improvement has occurred or not. Naturally, this judgement by auditors is very important and difficult. The situation is very similar to the weighting step recognized as a problem in life cycle analysis, but the use of indicators for management efforts adds an additional dimension to this already intricate problem.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87140 (URN)10.1016/S1066-7938(02)00011-8 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-06

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