There is increasing interest all over the world in Environmental Management Systems. Many Japanese electronic companies have mandated that their plants should be registered to ISO 14001 irrespective of what country they are located in. The big three automobile manufacturers in the United States have requested their suppliers to become registered to ISO 14001 within the next few years.

The EPA is openly supporting Environmental Management Systems including ISO 14001. Twenty-two US States have enacted legislation that encourages voluntary environmental audits by granting immunity to certain non-compliance issues that was discovered during the audit, providing prior notice of the audit was given to the state and the auditee had no prior knowledge of the non-compliance.

In response to the interest in Environmental Management Systems, this paper highlights the process flow from one environmental core element to the next in flow diagrams and gives examples from a number of implemented systems.

There are a number of system concepts comprising of core elements that are described in ISO 14001 but the link between the core elements are not always immediately obvious. The main processes are as follows:

• Identifying aspects, evaluating which are significant and then implementing control procedures for those issues, monitoring/measuring the outcome of the controls and reporting to management for corrective action or continuous improvement.

• Identification of regulatory issues that apply to the organizations activities, keeping up to date with regulatory changes and reporting to regulatory offices as may be required.

• Identifying which aspects that the organization wishes to pursue as an improvement program. The improvement program will include objectives, measurable targets for those objectives, the means by which those objectives will be achieved, the time frame and people responsible for the program.

• Internal assessments, corrective actions, preventive actions and management review and re-action.

An understanding of the EMS core elements and their inter relationship will be of interest to those who are considering implementing an Environmental management System in their organization.

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