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How do standardised environmental management systems affect environmental performance and business?
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Technique and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8323-881X
2001 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to increase the understanding of what a standardised environmental management system (EMS) is, can be, and is not. The EMS infrastructure, i.e. the standards for EMSs and corresponding systems for their application, is analysed to find out how"ft affects the environmental efforts of companies. Furthermore, the topic of how standardised EMSs fit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is discussed. A special EMS solution used by a group of SMEs is examined to clarify how this model has affected the environmental efforts and business of these enterprises.

The thesis is based on three studies. Firstly, external environmental auditors were interviewed. Secondly, the environmental reviews for the group of SMEs were studied. This study also involved a literature review on how to measure environmental performance. Thirdly, the environmental co-ordinators working at the mentioned small enterprises were interviewed.

It can be concluded that it is too early to draw any general conclusions on how standardised EMSs affect environmental performance. How ISO 14001 is interpreted and applied is largely left to companies and external environmental auditors. In practise, 14001's requirement concerning continual improvement is often restricted to a few environmental aspects and does not say anything about the total environmental impact. Furthermore, there is an inconsistency in the standard text and its implementation concerning which criteria are approved when assessing environmental aspects. Some auditors allow the inclusion of criteria regarding economy and quality, etc. To ensure the credibility of ISO 14001, the standard and the systems for its application should be improved.

The EMS model studied seems to be a cost-effective solution for SMEs that removes the most important barriers for EMS implementation and maintenance at small firms. Also, it appears to have led to significant environmental improvements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: LiU/Unitryck , 2001. , 54 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 907
Keyword [en]
Environmental management systems, EMS, ISO 14001, small and medium-sized enterprises, SME, continual improvement, environmental aspect, environmental performance
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-101568Local ID: LiU-Tek-Lic-2001 :44ISBN: 91-7373-124-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-101568DiVA: diva2:666525
Available from: 2013-11-22 Created: 2013-11-22 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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

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