Environmental management and auditing : relevant aspects of its development and implementation
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The concept o f Environmental Management and Auditing (EMA) is one that has only come to prominence in recent years but is fast gaining momentum EMA is part of a series of environmental protection measures which have evolved because of the recognised failings of previously accepted pollution "treatment" measures. These new measures are aimed at "prevention" of pollution and at the wise use of resources. The EMA concept has been evolving since the mid 1970's. The original concept had many applications but no set procedure. Its value as an environmental protection measure has given rise to a need for formalisation and standardisation. These formal standards facilitate widespread application of the EMA concept and a means of comparing the environmental management performance of individual companies. At present there are basically two separate types o f EMA schemes: • National Standards, such as the Irish Standard I S. 310 and Britain's B.S. 7750. • The EC's Environmental Management and Auditing Scheme (EMAS), which has Community-wide application. All of these schemes are very recent in origin, have voluntary application and have inherently similar procedures and requirements. The recent origins of these schemes means that they are as yet undergoing a type of experimental phase in relation to their practical application. The schemes have also to overcome the type of reluctance that faces any new initiative as regards awareness, understanding and uptake. Because the individual schemes are so similar, the experience gained in relation to each scheme can be inter-related. Given that the basic aim of these schemes is one of formalization and standardisation there appears to be a major inconsistency in the fact that no formal scheme of Auditor qualification exists. An adequate auditor qualification system must be given urgent attention and must be capable of International application. There is general agreement that implementation o f recognised environmental management and auditing schemes will be vital for future environmental protection. There is equal recognition that future business survival will depend on companies being able to display compliance with such schemes. It is also accepted that these schemes will create new market opportunities for environmental protection technology, goods and services. From a national viewpoint it is therefore essential that countries implement these schemes as efficiently and speedily as possible, so gaining competitive advantage. In Ireland's case, this will necessitate a thorough analysis o f what barriers the schemes will face, followed by positive action to overcome these barriers. Such action demands that issues such as company awareness, cost/benefit justification and demonstration projects, be addressed. The biggest obstacle to uptake of Environmental Management and Auditing in Ireland lies in the nature o f the industrial base. Ireland has a predominance of small to medium sized companies. All evidence so far gathered from studies of the schemes implementation shows that small and medium sized companies found the cost of initial implementation to be the most prohibitive factor encountered. Within the EC, Ireland is the only country that does not have a State scheme to subsidise environmental protection measures. There is therefore an urgent need for State financial aid to companies undertaking Environmental Management and Auditing Schemes.. The EMA concept coincides with a number of similar themes relating to disclosure of information, pollution prevention, integrated pollution control, etc. As such, there is ultimately a need to rationalise, condense and streamline these initiatives. Although EMA is still only in the development phase, it is vital from an environmental and economic viewpoint that the concept be recognised as an essential element of future environmental protection policy. It therefore deserves to be afforded high priority by all parties concerned.
- Theses - Science ITS 
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