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EPA Promotes Widespread Adoption of Environmental Management Systems

New York, Feb 24, 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reissued its position statement on environmental management systems (EMSs), announcing its intent to continue to encourage environmental responsibility through the widespread adoption of EMSs by the public and private sectors.

An EMS provides a set of processes that enable an organization to reduce its footprint on the environment and improve its operating efficiency and competitiveness. Involving a continual cycle of planning, implementation, reevaluation, and improvement, an EMS is designed to promote sustainable approaches to product design, energy efficiency, and resource conservation. EPA contends that EMSs can lead to environmental and business benefits alike by improving an organization’s environmental performance and compliance; reducing operating costs; and increasing employee efficiency and morale.

According to EPA, EMSs should be designed according to an organization’s defining characteristics such as facility size, complexity, and nature of environmental aspects. EPA encourages organizations to assess the performance of their EMSs through measurable objectives, and to share this information with public and private agencies.

Both public and private organizations have adopted an increasing number of EMS measures during the last ten years. EPA itself has implemented EMSs at thirty-four of its own facilities in line with Executive Order 13149—Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management. Issued in 2000, the order directed federal agencies to implement EMSs at all appropriate facilities.

EPA promotes the use of environmental guidelines governing EMSs such as the International Standard, ISO 14001, and has used the standard as the basis for EMS implementation at a number of its own facilities. EPA has demonstrated its commitment to the adoption of EMSs though participation in the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO Technical Committee 207, which is responsible for the ISO 14000 series of standards. EPA has provided funding for several training and outreach programs on the use of ISO 14001 in conjunction with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Currently leading research to evaluate the effectiveness of EMS applications in various settings, EPA is investigating ways in which EMSs can be used to strengthen environmental policies and programs. According to EPA, EMSs can be used to complement existing environmental regulatory programs, and should incorporate preventive measures to sidestep potential problems.

To further the widespread implementation of EMSs, EPA committed to promote public education, voluntary programs, and continued research. The agency also announced its decision to maintain a transparent process in partnership with state and local governments, industry, non-governmental organizations, and other federal agencies in support of the agency’s initiatives.

For more information about the EPA’s stance on environmental management systems, visit

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