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Where to start planning your EMS
There are a variety of approaches you can use to plan and set up your environmental management system (EMS). For information on the different standards, see the page in this guide on certification and standards for EMS.
This guide outlines the steps necessary for setting up an EMS using a stage-by-stage approach. It is a process that can lead to certification under the international standard ISO 14001, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the British Standard BS 8555.
For more detailed information about setting up an EMS, see our guide on how to plan and set up your environmental management system (EMS).

Start from the top
To give your EMS the best chance of being efficient and successful, you need to ensure the management of your business is committed to improving and managing environmental issues.
There are a number of benefits you can consider in order to persuade management of the benefits of running an EMS, including cost reduction, compliance with environmental legislation, better management of risk and significant marketing benefits. Without firm commitment from all members of your management teams, an EMS will lack focus and effectiveness. See our guide on making the case for environmental improvements.

Set the baseline
  • The environmental impact of your business' products and services - both good and bad
  • An environmental history of the business - if you have environmental records available
  • Environmental legislation relevant to your business and whether your operations comply
  • Current and future risks

  • You could benchmark your business' environmental performance against similar operations to assess where you stand. It's essential to analyse all your business processes, stage by stage, to uncover where strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are posed to good environmental management. To get a clear picture of any risks, you should look at all your business activities and their potential environmental impacts. Once you have identified your environmental impacts you need to work out which are significant and so need managing. Identifying the significant environmental impacts is very important because the rest of the EMS relies on it.