An EMS can be described as a program of continuous environmental improvement that follows a defined sequence of steps drawn from established project management practice and routinely applied in business
management. In simple terms these steps are as follows:
• Review the environmental consequences of the operations.
• Define a set of policies and objectives for environmental performance.
• Establish an action plan to achieve the objectives.
• Monitor performance against these objectives.
• Report the results appropriately.
• Review the system and the outcomes and strive for continuous improvement.
Not every system will present these steps in exactly the same way, but the basic principles are clear and easily understandable.
The ISO 14000 series is a series of standards for different aspects of environmental management. A number of these standards relating to environmental management systems have been adopted formally by
the members of the ISO, while others are in different stages of preparation.
The standards that have been adopted are (as of early 1997):
ISO 14001-1996 Environmental management systems:
specification with guidance for use
ISO 14004-1996 Environmental management systems:
general guidelines on principles, systems, and supporting techniques
ISO 14010-1996 Guidelines for environmental auditing:
general principles of environmental auditing
ISO 14011-1996 Guidelines for environmental auditing:
audit procedures; auditing of environmental management systems.
ISO 14012-1996 Guidelines for environmental auditing:
qualification criteria for environmental auditors Standards currently available as draft international standards:
ISO 14021 Environmental labels and declarations:
self-declaration environmental claims; guidelines and definition and usage of terms.
ISO 14040 Environmental management: life cycle assessment; principles and framework
ISO 14050 Environmental management: vocabulary More than half a dozen others in this series have been drafted and are under discussion.