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A reader writes about environmental management systems

Dear Dianne,

I read some of your postings this am. I cannot help but think that if robust, credible and reliable EMS (aligned to ISO 14001) were more wide spread that some of these challenges could have been avoided. Not only would they have avoided the environmental damage, but the financial costs would have been avoided, as well as the personal and community hardships.

People need to realize that the fines are not the only cost, which is the one that tends to catch the attention of many first. I wonder if anyone has done a ‘total cost assessment’ of these sorts of problems? Then I think about where does the fine money go? Is there a way to direct this to educating a community, so that all its stakeholders learn about the value of an EMS? A community adoption of better management of their relationship with the environment has the potential for great return. If a critical number of entities within a community had an EMS (which would be 13%)  – and a local registry of aspects and impacts could be shared to enhance local understanding, would this not be better value? When organizations (public and private sector) have four ways to confirm their adoption of the standard, there are options to suit all needs and budgets. I know of an inventive training approach, a one day boot camp, that can help the smallest of businesses, so the economic foundations of any community can be included, at a low cost.

It makes me think the resources derived from these fines would be well spent driving the understanding of what an EMS can do, especially if a community adoption approach were taken. If a critical mass of entities within one area had EMS in place this could reduce or eliminate (ah! utopia) these sorts of things; we would all be better off. This could have a much better impact than the current reality – in essence it would be a stimulus package that with multiplier effects.

Out of curiosity, how many of the current court cases include the adoption of EMS as a means to prevent future problems?

Seems to me this would be a worthy research project and stakeholder experiment. It’s something that we would propose along with the 14000registry.com and the EnviroReady Report, a registrar and this training group. As a collaboration we could work with service providers to offer the gamut of resources required for ensuring all needs with a community were addressed. Such an experiment would certainly create news and hopefully a ripple effect.

Thanks for your saxenews, as always useful, valuable and thought provoking.

Lynn Johannson,


E2 Management Corporation

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