Study concludes environmental management systems can boost performance, compliance

CHAPEL HILL -- Formal environmental management systems (EMS) can improve the environmental performance of government units and businesses as well as their operating and management efficiencies, a major new study concludes. Sometimes, the organizations' compliance with various regulations also gets better.

"These results are more likely for facilities that are subsidiaries of publicly traded corporations, owing to their greater resources, but they also occur in privately held and government facilities," said Dr. Richard N.L. Andrews of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The evidence suggests that these systems are highly variable in their content, priorities and judgments of what is important.

"The existence of certification of an EMS per se does not necessarily provide any clear information, or information comparable to other facilities, however, about the facility's actual environmental performance, compliance or rate of improvement."

Andrews, professor of public policy at the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and of environmental sciences and engineering at the school of public health, and colleagues conducted the first-of-its-kind study for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Wastewater Management, with additional support from EPA's Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation. Also involved in the five-year project were 10 state environmental agencies, the Environmental Law Institute, the Multi-State Working Group on Environmental Management Systems, the Star Track Program of the EPA's Region I and the Global Environmental Technology Foundation.

"Environmental management systems identify what a company or other organization is going to try to do to protect the environment, to improve its performance and then to carry through on that," Andrews said. "They involve identifying what they do to the environment, training people to fix it and preventing problems from happening again. The most elaborate involv

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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