5 Examples of Environmental Management Systems Explained
Examples of environmental management systems are; sustainable raw material selection, paperless communication, renewable energy development, effluent-treatment policies, and periodic impact assessment.
An environmental management system is any framework consisting of policies, tools and practices with the aim to mitigate negative environmental impacts and conserve resources.
This article discusses the examples of environmental management systems, as follows;
1). Sustainable Raw Material Selection and Substitution (as one of the Examples of Environmental Management Systems)
Sustainable material selection is the practice and process of selecting materials that are considered efficient and reliable in terms of both performance and environmental impacts, according to a given set of criteria.
The materials around which this concept is centered are called 'sustainable materials' or sustainable raw materials.
A sustainable raw material is any material whose use for a given purpose does not pose any harm to performance, safety or environmental quality.
Factors that need to be considered when choosing sustainable materials are; durability, suitability for intended use, energy requirement for processing or storage, water conservation propensity, recycling and hazard potential .
Evaluating the hazard potential of materials is particularly important with respect to environmental management, and may be carried out based on criteria like; susceptibility to cause pollution, and compatibility with the specific environmental system of use.
Sustainability issues with raw materials include; pollution risk, low durability, extraction-related environmental degradation, and excessive demand for water and/or energy resources.
Addressing these issues is the aim of sustainable material selection, and is beneficial to the ecosystem.
Direct application of sustainable material selection in real-life scenarios can be observed in areas like sustainable manufacturing, agriculture and green building.
Construction projects where the use of sustainable materials is prioritized, are becoming relatively common, and referred to accordingly as sustainable building/sustainable construction projects .
2). Paperless Organizational Communication
As the name implies, paperless organizational communication is the deliberate switch from paper-conveyed information to a scheme of predominant virtual communication.
A paperless environment in ICT is the term used to describe a business or social environment in which paper usage as an information conveyance medium is mostly replaced with the use of computer applications.
Paperless schemes help the environment by mitigating deforestation, and conserving energy and water resources, among others which are consumed for the production and management of paper products.
There have been debates regarding the actual environmental impact of switching to a paperless project management or operation scheme.
These arguments are based on the obvious fact that the use of software and computers also demands large amounts of energy, and can contribute to various forms of environmental degradation that include air pollution, oil spill, greenhouse emission and global warming.
Paperless communication is in fact better for the environment than paper-based operation, especially when the two options are compared on a long-term, large-scale basis.
Over the long term, the effects of deforestation, paper production, and paper-waste management are immense. Also, computer-based operations are highly efficient and can handle large amounts of information with much less energy, storage space and environmental impact, than paper-based operations.
The benefits of paperless schemes are also economical, as they can help save billions of dollars in time, energy, water and storage space, that would otherwise be spent yearly on paper management in the United States alone .
3). Renewable Energy Development Schemes (as one of the Examples of Environmental Management Systems)
Renewable energy development is a very important example of environmental management systems, especially in the context of modern-day economies, environmental protection and energy resource-conservation efforts.
The role of renewable resources in environmental management is to prevent resource depletion and climate change by reducing the use of non-renewable energy resources like fossil fuels.
Various countries across the world are increasingly adopting renewable energy development as an integral part of their environmental management systems . Switching to renewable resources is the main goal of the energy transition agenda, and is often portrayed to have significant social and economic relevance, among other sustainable development measures .
4). Effluent Treatment Policies
Effluent treatment policies are useful as a tool for environmental management in areas with high rate of industrial activity and/or discharge of liquid waste into the environment.
It is especially important to have and effectively-implement such policies where waste discharge affects water bodies that are in close proximity to residential or work areas.
An ETP in environmental management is an effluent treatment system or plant equipped to process liquid waste and remove its toxic content before it is discharged into the environment .
The type and scale of the effluent treatment plant used in any scenario, depend on the nature (source, toxicity level, quantity) of effluents being handled, as well as the guidelines given by environmental agencies with regards to treating effluents.
Effluent treatment policies may be implemented as part of a large scheme of environmental management in municipalities, to manage the disposal of sewage and industrial waste.
5). Periodic Impact Assessment and Decision-Making (as one of the Examples of Environmental Management Systems)
As the name implies, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the evaluation of environmental conditions to understand how various factors affect sustainability.
EIA is usually implemented as part of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), and can be conducted on a periodic basis to detect any changes that occur in the environment over time.
The importance of environmental impact assessment is immense because it provides useful information that can be used to make decisions on how to protect the environment an its resources, while optimizing socioeconomic productivity.
Examples of environmental management systems are;
1. Sustainable Raw Material Selection and Substitution
2. Paperless Organizational Communication
3. Renewable Energy Development Schemes
4. Effluent Treatment Policies
5. Periodic Impact Assessment and Decision-Making
1). Al-Shetwi, A. Q. (2022). "Sustainable development of renewable energy integrated power sector: Trends, environmental impacts, and recent challenges." Science of The Total Environment 822(5):153645. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153645. (Accessed 17 March 2023).
2). Asiwal, R. S.; Sar, S. K.; Singh, S.; Sahu, M. (2016). "Wastewater Treatment by Effluent Treatment Plants." International Journal of Civil Engineering 3(12):19-24. Available at: https://doi.org/10.14445/23488352/IJCE-V3I12P105. (Accessed 17 March 2023).
3). Bielski, S.; Zielińska-Chmielewska, A.; Marks-Bielska, R. (2021). "Use of Environmental Management Systems and Renewable Energy Sources in Selected Food Processing Enterprises in Poland." Energies. 2021; 14(11):3212. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en14113212. (Accessed 17 March 2023).
4). Ljungberg, L. Y. (2007). "Materials selection and design for development of sustainable products." Materials and Design 28(2):466-479. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matdes.2005.09.006. (Accessed 17 March 2023).
5). Xiong, E. (2021). "The Sustainable Impact Of A Paperless Office." Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/05/11/the-sustainable-impact-of-a-paperless-office/?sh=6ecfa2071095. (Accessed 17 March 2023).
6). Zhang, H.; Peng, Y.; Tian, G.; Wang, D.; Xie, P. (2017). "Green material selection for sustainability: A hybrid MCDM approach." PLoS One. 2017 May 12;12(5):e0177578. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177578. (Accessed 17 March 2023).