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The connection between environmental management systems and continual environmental performance improvements
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8323-881X
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2002 (English)In: Corporate Environmental Strategy, ISSN 1066-7938, 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 9, no 2, 183-192 p.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87140DOI: 10.1016/S1066-7938(02)00011-8OAI: diva2:585661
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2014-10-08
In thesis
1. Do standardised environmental management systems lead to reduced environmental impacts?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do standardised environmental management systems lead to reduced environmental impacts?
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.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 851
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30064 (URN)15524 (Local ID)91-7373-778-X (ISBN)15524 (Archive number)15524 (OAI)
Public defence
2003-12-12, Sal C3, Hus C, Linköping Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2014-10-08

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