Environmental management is a set of policies and procedures that govern how a organization relates to the environment. This affects both how many natural resources will be available to the organization in the long run and also the customer perception of the organization. Additionally, organizations are often mandated to abide by certain legislation to avoid fines.
Organizations must develop a thorough understanding of the environmental effects that they have on the environment, according to the University of North Carolina. This is done both by studying the processes and byproducts of the company, such as carbon emissions, and also by fully understanding the science behind how the processes affect the environment.
Many environmental management systems follow legislation passed by federal and state governments. Following legislation allows these companies to save money by not having to fund research into more environmentally friendly business processes. However, some companies choose to surpass environmental regulations in order to appeal to customers and in order to avoid regulations in the future. When companies develop environmental management systems that reduce the company’s impact on the environment, these changes can sometimes cost the company extra money. However, these changes can also give the company a competitive edge because these companies will appeal to customers who want to buy products that were created in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways, according to Michigan State University.
In addition to appealing to customers by producing products and services in more environmentally friendly ways, companies also often wish to become more environmentally friendly in increasingly efficient and cost-effective ways, further giving the company a competitive edge.
Environmental management information systems are created so that organizations can track compliance requirements and regulations so that they can operate legally. Many information systems also track pollution and environmental resource consumption so that organizations can have a better understanding of their impact on the environment. Environmental audit programs are created by regulatory agencies to examine company data to ensure that the data is collected accurately and to ensure that regulations are abided by. Data dictionaries have aerial maps that have environmental impact assessments.
After policies and procedures have been developed and implemented into the everyday processes of the organization, an assessment is needed of the success or failure of the environmental policies and procedures. If policies and procedures have been shown to be ineffective, the limitations of the policies and procedures must be identified so that they can be corrected. If the policies and procedures are working, the organization can still analyze the results and try to find ways to further improve the environmental friendliness of the company.