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An ISO 14000 compliant Environmental Management System (EMS) provides the information necessary to understand the environmental policies in place at the company. This management system provides an objective basis for verifying a company's claims about its performance. The key to a successful EMS is having documented procedures that are implemented and maintained in daily business operations. In addition, the EMS must include appropriate monitoring and review to ensure effective functioning and to identify and implement corrective measures in a timely manner.

An EMS is a continuous progression of compliance, improvement and prevention. The following outlines the basic requirements to obtain compliance:

Establish an environmental policy
The environmental policy describes a company's shared vision, commitment and direction in environmental ethics. This includes the company's intentions in environmental performance as well as a framework for objectives and targets.

Determine environmental aspects and impacts of products and services
A company should evaluate its products, activities and services to identify and determine which aspects can interact with the environment and which should be controlled.

Plan environmental objectives and measurable targets
Once environmental impacts have been identified, the company must judge their significance and set reasonable objectives and targets to develop an effective EMS.

Implement and operate programs to meet objectives and targets
The steps, scope, time frame, costs and responsibilities of the programs need to be defined in order to develop and implement an EMS that meets the company's targets and objectives. This strategic plan sets the framework for responsible and related parties within the company.

Monitor activities and take corrective action
As the measuring and monitoring activities and internal EMS audits identify areas for improvement, corrective action must be taken immediately to alleviate any negative impact of the nonconformance.

Review and evaluate performance
The ongoing management review of the EMS and its elements helps to ensure continual improvement in the company. To ensure the continuing effectiveness of the EMS, management should regularly review and evaluate audits, corrective action, legislation and other critical information.

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