ISO 14001, EMAS, OR BS 8555: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR UK BUSINESSES
Thesis presented in part-fulfilment of the degree of Master of Science in accordance
with the regulations of the University of East Anglia
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia
NR4 7TJ August 2004
© 2004 Bo Chen
This copy of the dissertation has been supplied on condition that anyone who consults
it is understood to recognize that its copyright rests with the author and that no
quotation from the dissertation, nor any information derived therefrom, may be
published without the author’s prior written consent. Moreover, it is supplied on the
understanding that it represents an internal University document and that neither the
University nor the author are responsible for the factual or interpretative correctness
of the dissertation.
List of Figures Ⅰ
List of Tables Ⅱ
1. Introduction 1
2. Literature Review
2.1 Business and the Environment
2.1.1 Identification of Business 3
2.1.2 Environmental Impacts of Different Businesses 4
2.1.3 Strategy towards environmental impact 5
2.2 Environmental Management Systems
2.2.1 Environmental Management Systems 6
2.2.2 Stages of Standardized EMS 8
2.2.3 Why develop an EMS 10
2.3 ISO 14001
2.3.1 Background information of ISO 14001 11
2.3.2 Stages for implementing ISO 14001 12
2.3.3 Current situation of ISO 14001 14
2.4.1 Background information of EMAS 15
2.4.2 Stages for implementing EMAS 16
2.4.3 Current situation of EMAS 18
2.5 BS 8555
2.5.1 Background information of BS 8555 18
2.5.2 Structure of BS 8555 19
2.5.3 The use of BS8555 22
2.6 The UK business
2.6.1 General information of the UK businesses 23
2.6.2 EMS implementation in SMEs 25
2.6.3 Drivers and Barriers of EMS implementation in SMEs 26
3.1 Introduction 28
3.2 Criteria of suitable EMS 29
3.3 the most suitable EMS 32
4.1 Easy to start implementation 33
4.2 Costs are relatively lower 34
4.3 Benefits are relatively higher 35
4.4 Environmental performance are continuously improved 36
4.5 Legal compliance 38
4.6 Implementation is easy to control 39
4.7 Easy to get assistance 40
4.8 Good recognition system 42
4.9 Other criteria 43
5.1 Comparison results 45
5.1.1 Characteristics of ISO 14001 45
5.1.2 Characteristics of EMAS 47
5.1.3 Characteristics of BS 8555 48
5.2 ISO 14001, EMAS or BS 8555? 50
5.3 Gap analysis and further study recommendation 51
6. Conclusion 52
List of Figures
Figure 2.1: Cycle of continual improvement 8
Figure 2.2: Stages of a typical environmental management system 9
Figure 2.3: Five steps of ISO 14001 14
Figure 2.4: Seven stages of phase 1 in BS 8555 20
Figure 2.5: overall process for phased implementation 21
Figure 2.6: Share of enterprises, employment and turnover by size of enterprise, UK
Figure 2.7: VAT registered businesses by industry sector, per cent, UK 25
Figure 3.1: Process of methodology 32
List of Tables
Table 2.1: Benefits of improved environmental management 10
Table 2.2 Stakeholders of SMEs 27
Table 3.1: Criteria of suitable EMS 29
Table 4.1: Comparison on easy to start implementation 33
Table 4.2: Comparison on costs 34
Table 4.3: Comparison on implementation benefits 35
Table 4.4: Comparison on environmental performance continual improvement 36
Table 4.5: Comparison on legal compliance 38
Table 4.6: Comparison on the control of implementation process 39
Table 4.7: Comparison on assistance 40
Table 4.8: Comparison on recognition system 42
Table 4.9: Comparison on other criteria 43
The number of companies certified an Environmental Management System (EMS) in
the UK is continuously increased in the last few years. Most of the participants choose
the international standard ISO 14001 or the EU regulation EMAS as their EMS.
However, with the appearance of the new British standard - BS8555, UK businesses
need to think about which one of these three EMSs is most applicable.
Ten criteria have been created in order to identify the most applicable EMS for UK
businesses. These criteria include the costs and benefits of the EMS implementation,
whether it is easy to start for companies and easy to be control during the
implementation process, legal compliance, environmental performance evaluation,
and compatibility of the EMS etc.
Through the comparison between three EMSs, advantages and disadvantages of each
EMS were defined. Simply EMAS is more difficult for small and medium-sized
enterprise (SME) to implement. ISO 14001 is relatively easier to implement but it has
fewer requirements and may cause potential problem in the implementation process.
The BS 8555 combines some of the advantages from the other two EMSs and with its
staged approach makes the SMEs easier to start implementing and finally achieve ISO
14001 certification or the EMAS registration.
I would like to thank my parents for their financial support to my study. Thanks to my
girl friend Xiyun Zhi for her encourage throughout the year. Special thanks to Jon
Gurr my supervisor for his persistent advice and supports.
Environmental management system (EMS) is one of the most important tools
available for the purpose of making the organisations more environmentally proactive
and efficient (Emilsson, 2002). Through the establishing of an EMS, the company can
demonstrate to clients and the public that they take environmental impacts seriously.
In addition, an efficient EMS also can improve company’s operation process and
brings economic benefits. Nowadays more and more companies have realized the
importance of the EMS and engaged in the EMS implementation practice.
Since the first EMS standard (BS 7750) developed by the British Standard Institute
(BSI) in 1992, different countries and organisations have developed their own EMSs.
Among them, probably the most famous two are the international standard ISO 14001
developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the EU
regulation the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). Many of the UK
companies have certified their EMS under these two systems, and many others are
planning to do so. However, in 2003 the BSI published their new British standard -
BS 8555, which provides a staged approach for the UK businesses especially the
small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to implement the EMS. This new standard
brings the UK businesses a new choice.
The purpose of this study was to identify which one of these three EMSs (i.e. ISO
14001, EMAS, and BS 8555) is more applicable for most of the UK businesses. It is
important that EMS participants have a clear understanding which EMS can meets
their demands. Choosing the right EMS can not only save the implementation costs,
avoid the troubles, but also get satisfactory implementation results. On the contrary,
unsuitable EMS causes difficulties during the implementation and even leads fail
achieving the implementation aims.
In order to identify the most applicable EMS, each of the EMSs as well as their
relevant literatures was examined in the literature review chapter. In addition, the
characteristics of the UK businesses also were examined in that chapter. Followed
with methodology chapter in which ten criteria for the most suitable EMS have been
created. In the results chapter the advantages and disadvantages of each EMS were
identified through a contrastive method based on the criteria. Finally, based on the
characteristic of the UK businesses, the most applicable was identified in the
2. Literature Review
2.1 Business and the Environment
2.1.1 Identification of Business
Business has experienced dramatic change since the beginning of the Industrial
Revolution which took place in Western Europe two hundred years ago (Blair, 2001).
New businesses appeared such as chemical industry, motor industry, and retail
industry; new technology was applied in everywhere; and new market was opened all
over the world. All these changes of business area caused environmental impacts
which totally different from two hundred years ago. In order to discuss the
environmental impact of business we have to answer a basic question: what is
Strictly speaking, business is the range of commercial organizations and their
activities that characterize the way in which trading is conducted in a capitalist
economy (Blair, 2001). However, commonly the words “industry” and “business” are
used interchangeably and this is the case in this article. Business with the same
meaning of industry which is seen as the collection of firms who operate essentially
the same series of processes that result in a related set of products (whether tangible
products or services) that a third party wishes to buy (Blair, 2001).
By convention, industries are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary industries.
Primary industries include fishing, forestry, agriculture and the extractive industries
(essentially, the quarrying and mining of minerals). They involve the collection,
harvesting and exploitation of resources directly produced by physical processes.
Secondary industries are the manufacturing industries. They take raw materials and by
a variety of processes produce tangible goods by adding value to the raw materials.
The tertiary industries produce services, for either individuals or for other
organizations. The way in which primary, secondary and tertiary industries effect the
environment are seen as being sufficiently different to warrant separate analysis.
2.1.2 Environmental Impacts of Different Businesses
The environmental impacts of different industrial sectors vary enormously (Welford,
1998). For example, the oil industry may cause serious environmental impacts while
the retail industry has less direct impacts to the environment. This is because the oil
industry belongs primary industries while retail industry belongs tertiary industries
and the characteristics of these two industrial categories are totally different.
Because of their intimate relationship with the environment, the primary industries
have a widespread and significant environmental impact. Firstly, they cause high
pollution. For example, oil and gas flares, which happened in oil industry, contribute
to global warming. Additionally, oil spills can cause great localized harm to marine
ecosystems. Secondly, the primary industries generate considerable wastes. The fossil
fuel and mining industries are the main culprits in waste generation. However, the
wastes of factory farming also should not be neglected. Thirdly, farming and forestry
of the primary industries have the greatest overall impact on habitats because they
occupy the greatest areas of land. The type of farming or forest has a profound
influence on the nature of flora and fauna of a region. Finally, farming and forestry
also has significant landscape impacts because they form important landscapes in
much of the developed world.
Manufacturing is the core of the secondary industries. Raw materials and components
are brought together and manufactured into either end product or a component for
some other manufacturing process. Manufacturing processes consume huge amount of
energy and inevitably produce waste products and pollution. Waste is seen as part of
the process, whereas pollution is seen as an inevitable consequence of the process that
should not happen in the perfect industrial process but which, in practice, results in
the degradation of some physical resource. This is most usually the air, watercourses
or the ground. Sound and visual impact may also be included under the broad banner
of pollution. In addition to the manufacture process, the products itself also cause
environmental impact during its delivery, use and disposal.
Tertiary industries or so-called service businesses received relatively little attention on
their environmental impacts. This may be because in comparison to primary or
secondary industries they appear to depend far less on physical resources and they
often deal with a more intangible product. However, the environmental impact of
tertiary industries is less obvious but does not mean that it does not exist. For example,
compared to an oil refinery, a supermarket seems to be much less environmental
impact but it is not without impact. The transfer of goods within the supermarket
chain, and the customers travel to the store especially those suburban stores all cause
air pollution. Other environmental impacts which tertiary industries cause include
energy consumption in heating, lighting and equipment, pollution through the travel
of their employees and clients, produce waste from canteens, consume waster and
materials and certainly produce large volumes of paper waste.
2.1.3 Strategy towards environmental impact
Since the 1960s, there has been a growing interest in the environment, or more
specifically in the damage being done to the environment (Welford, 1998). During the
first two decades, it was felt that growth and development and protection of the
environment could not go hand in hand. Hence most of the theories that developed
during this period were anti-growth. However, the 1980s witnessed a shift in thinking.
The concept of ‘zero growth’ was replaced by sustainable development which has
been broadly accepted nowadays.
Sustainable development, in its simplest form, is defined as development that meets
the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and
Development, 1987). It implies that it is possible to make development and
environmental protection compatible. However, the old ways of development which
cause pollution and atmospheric damage, disrupts traditional ways of living, destroys
ecosystems and feeds more and more power into international oligopolistic industrial
structures must be changed into sustainable ways (Welford, 1998). The Brundtland
Report, commissioned by the United Nations to examine long-term environmental
strategies, argued that this would require quite radical changes in economic practices
throughout the world.
As an ultimate objective, the concept of sustainable development is immensely
valuable. However, strategies are needed to translate conceptual theories of what
sustainable development means into practical ways of achieving it over time within
the corporate context. Firms clearly have a role to play in the development of
substitutes for non-renewable resources and innovations which reduce waste and use
energy more efficiently. They also have a role in processing those materials in a way
which brings about environmental improvements. Additionally, Firms have the
opportunity for considering both the use and disposal of the product during the design
period. In order to achieve these goals, companies must seek to develop management
strategies which will improve their environmental performance (Welford, 1998).
2.2 Environmental management systems
2.2.1 Environmental management systems
Many companies have adopted environmental policies and carried out environmental
audits or reviews in response to legislative pressures, green marketing opportunities,
increased public pressure, ethical concerns and the commitment of local and central
government (Netherwood, 1998). However, companies still be faced with a problem
of finding a systematic way of implementing commitments to environmental
management within their existing organizational structure. In practical, one tool which
companies have generally accepted to facilitate implementation of environmental
policy is an environmental management system (EMS).
An EMS is defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI) as: the organizational
structure, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for
determining and implementing environmental policy (Netherwood, 1998). Similar
definitions are found in the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) and ISO
14001. Not like legislation, EMS is a voluntary tool which can help companies to
control environmental impact caused by their operations (Roberts, 1998).
Despite the fact that different companies may develop different environment
management system, usually there are some common steps can be found in these
EMSs. This is because most of them were designed based on the steps of quality
management system such as ISO 9000 (Netherwood, 1998). Therefore, it is possible
to create a standard for environmental management systems in order to ensure a
certain quality for the EMS, and to encourage organizations to improve their
In the last few years a number of voluntary environmental management schemes have
been developed. The standard-BS 7750- was published by BSI in March 1992 and
was the world’s first environmental management system standard. At the same time
that BSI began work on BS 7750, the European Commission was setting out its
proposal for an eco-audit scheme and it was from this proposal that EMAS eventually
emerged in 1993. In the same year of EMAS publishing, the activity relating to
environmental management system standardization began on the international scene.
And after a development time of a little under three years, ISO 14000 series were
published in October 1996.
The standardized environmental management systems are voluntary and are designed
to be externally verified by nationally accredited bodies, in a similar way as the
quality standard ISO 9000. It is argued that companies which register with the
schemes, gaining the EMAS and ISO14001 accreditation, will experience added value
such as market advantages, and legal compliance (Netherwood, 1998).
2.2.2 Stages of Standardized EMS
Environmental management systems are very much related to quality management
systems. They are mechanisms that provide for a systematic and cyclical process of
continual improvement. As can be seen in Figure 2.1, the cycle itself begins with
planning for a desired outcome (i.e. improved environmental performance),
implementing that plan, checking to see if the plan is working and finally correcting
and improving the plan based on observations form the checking process. Logically
then, if the original outcome desired remains the same, a system of this nature will, by
default, generate increments of progress that continually move toward the desired
outcome (Roberts, 1998).
Act Continual Improvement Do
Figure 2.1: Cycle of continual improvement
Source: Roberts, 1998
In order for an company to achieve environmental performance through a
management loop as mentioned above, it will need to define responsibilities for
environmental management, deploy resources to ensure that action is taken on
environmental issues, train staff to become aware of their environmental
responsibilities, monitor environmental performance and audit and review the system
of achieving environmental improvement. The basis of all of this activity is an
organizational commitment to continual environmental improvement and an
environmental policy (Netherwood, 1998). The stages of a typical environmental
management system were shown in Figure2.2.
Organizational commitment to environmental management
Adoption of an environmental policy
Review/audit of environmental effects
Revision of environmental policy
Implementation of environmental training programme
Allocation of environmental responsibility
Setting of environmental objectives and targets
Development of action plan to achieve environmental objectives and targets
Audit of performance in relation to targets
Audit of the effectiveness of the management programme
Review of the management system
Report environmental performance internally and externally
Figure2.2: Stages of a typical environmental management system
Source: Netherwood, 1998
2.2.3 Why develop an EMS?
Develop an EMS within a company will definitely cost resources such as time, human
resource, and money (Bansal, 2002). Such costs become more apparent when a
company applies certification for their EMS. Furthermore, it has been suggested that
EMS and the standards will just add another layer of bureaucracy for the company. So
why do a company need an environmental management system? The answer is
creating a successful EMS could bring more benefits than the costs.
The advantages of improved environmental management can be divided into two
broad categories (Roberts, 1998). The first category addresses the fact that improved
environmental management is good for our planet and a fundamental requirement of
global sustainability. This is because respecting that present business patterns are
fundamentally unsustainable, improved environmental management will serve at least
to move our business patterns towards sustainability. The second category, which
seems have a more direct relationship with companies, addresses the fact that
improved environmental management could benefit the company a lot. The table 2.1
lists some of the benefits.
1.Save company’s costs.
2.Environmental targets not just set but met.
3.Procedures in place to ensure legislative compliance.
4.Improved public image and increased market opportunities.
5.Viewed more favourably by the regulator and the financial sector.
Table 2.1: Benefits of improved environmental management
Source: Roberts, 1998
2.3 ISO 14001
2.3.1 Background information of ISO 14001
ISO 14000 is a series of international standards for environmental management. In
order to satisfy the increasing demand of establishing international environmental
management standard, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) started to
develop it in 1993 and after nearly three year’s development, ISO published this series
of standards (ISO 14001 and ISO 14004) in October 1996. It is the first such series of
standards that allows organizations from around the world to pursue environmental
efforts and measure performance according to internationally accepted criteria
The 14000series consists of over a dozen separate standards. But all these standards
are fallen under two categories: specification standards and guidance standards (Krut,
1998). ISO specification standards are prescriptive documents: they describe what a
company must do or not do in order to get certification. ISO 14001 is a blueprint for
the company’s environmental management system, and it is the only specification
standard in the ISO 14000 series. It describes how a company might manage and
control its organizational system so that it measures, controls and continually
improves the environmental aspects of its operations (Krut, 1998).
ISO 14001 is intended to be applicable to ‘all types and sizes of organizations and to
accommodate diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions’ (ISO, 1996). The
overall aim of both ISO 14001 and the other standards in the 14000 series is to
support environmental protection and the prevention of pollution in harmony with
socio-economic needs. ISO 14001 applies to any organization that wishes to improve
and demonstrate its environmental performance to others through the presence of a
certified environmental management system (Roberts, 1998).
With the exception of requiring the commitment to continual improvement and
commitment to comply with relevant legislation and regulation, ISO 14001 does not
prescribe environmental performance requirements. ISO 14001 specifies the
requirements of the management system itself, which, if maintained properly, will
improvement environmental performance by reducing impacts such as air emissions
and wastewater effluents (Roberts, 1998).
2.3.2 Stages for implementing ISO 14001
The elements of ISO 14001 are organized around five steps (Welford, 1998):
1. Environmental policy
3. Implementation and operation
4. Checking and corrective action
5. Management review
Each step is briefly described below.
Environmental policy is a formal and documented set of principles and intentions with
respect to the environment. Essentially, the environmental policy is the guiding
document for corporate environmental improvement and adherence to it is
fundamental to the integrity and success of the entire EMS (Roberts, 1998). A policy
must contain commitments to:
* Continual improvement;
* Prevention of pollution; and
* Complying with relevant environmental legislation and other relevant requirements.
The company must then set itself objectives and targets relating to its three policy
commitments and devise a plan to meet these objectives and targets. Here the
environmental objectives are the broad goals that your organization sets in order to
improve environmental performance while environmental targets are set performance
measurements that must be met to realize a given objective. All environmental
objectives must have at least one target (usually more) and all targets must relate
directly to a stated objective (Roberts, 1998).
Implementation and operation
Having devised its plan, the organization must then put in place the various elements
necessary for its successful implementation and operation.
Checking and corrective action
Having implemented its plan, the organization must then check to see whether it has
been successful in meeting its objectives and targets. If any have not been met, then
corrective action must be taken. The entire management system must be periodically
audited to see that it meets the requirements of the standard (Welford, 1998).
Management must periodically review the system to ensure its continuing
effectiveness and suitability. Changes are made to the system as and when necessary.
The figure 2.3 shows the five steps of ISO 14001
Checking and and Operation
Figure2.3: Five steps of ISO 14001
Source: BS EN ISO 14001, 1996
2.3.3 Current situation of ISO 14001
ISO 14001 is a specification standard, i.e. it consists of a set of requirements for
establishing and maintaining an environmental management system. By complying
with these requirements an organization can demonstrate to the outside world that is
has an appropriate and effective management system in place. One way in which a
company can demonstrate that is by ‘self-declaration’. This means that the company
checks its own compliance with the requirements. However, a company may feel that
it carries more weight with the outside world if its compliance with the requirements
of ISO 14001 is checked by an independent third party. This third checking is known
as ‘certification’ (Welford, 1998).
Up to the end of 2002, at least 49,462 ISO 14001 certificates had been issued in 118
countries, an increase of 12,697 certificates (+ 34,54%) over the end of 2001 when the
total stood at 36,765 in 112 countries (ISO, 2004). Another survey shows the increase
of this number is continuous in the next year. Up to December of 2003, there are
61,287 certificates had been issued around the world, an increase of 11,825
certificates can be seen in that year (ISO world, 2004).
The accreditation body in the UK is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service
(UKAS), which is recognized by the UK government as the national body for
providing national accreditation of certification bodies and of measurement and
2.4.1 Background information of EMAS
EMAS - the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, is a voluntary initiative designed
for companies and other organizations to evaluate, report, and improve their
environmental performance. It should be highlight that EMAS is a European Union
Regulation, which applied within the European Union and the European Economic
Area (EEA) — Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. An increasing number of
candidate countries are also implementing the scheme in preparation for their
accession to the EU (EMAS, 2004). The scheme has been available for participation
by companies since 1995 (Council Regulation (EEC) No 1836/93 of 29 June 1993)
and was originally restricted to companies in industrial sectors.
The aim of EMAS is to recognize and reward those organizations that go beyond
minimum legal compliance and continuously improve their environmental
performance (EMAS-UK, 2004). In addition, it is a requirement of the scheme that
participating organizations regularly produce a public environmental statement that
reports on their environmental performance. It is this voluntary publication of
environmental information, whose accuracy and reliability has been independently
checked by an environmental verifier, that gives EMAS and those organizations that
participate enhanced credibility and recognition.
In June 1997 The Commission undertook a 5-year review of EMAS, taking into
account experience gained during its operation. The final revised Regulation
(Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19
March 2001) published in April 2001, is often referred to as EMAS II. This new
Regulation has been open to all economic sectors including public and private
services. In addition, EMAS II was strengthened by the integration of EN/ISO 14001
as the environmental management system required by EMAS; by adopting an
attractive EMAS logo to signal EMAS registration to the outside world; and by
considering more strongly indirect effects such as those related to financial services or
administrative and planning decisions.
2.4.2 Stages for implementing EMAS
The objective of EMAS shall be to promote continual improvements in the
environmental performance of organizations by (EMAS, 2001):
(a) The establishment and implementation of environmental management systems by
organizations as described in Annex I
(b) The systematic, objective and periodic evaluation of the performance of such
systems as described in Annex I
(c) The provision of information on environmental performance and an open dialogue
with the public and other interested parties
(d) The active involvement of employees in the organization and appropriate initial
and advanced training that makes active participation in the tasks referred to under (a)
possible. Where they so request, any employee representatives shall also be involved.
In order to get the EMAS registration an organization should go through the following
steps (EMAS, 2004):
1. Conduct an environmental review
Consider all environmental impacts of the organization’s activities: production
processes, products and services, assessment methods, the legal framework as well as
existing environmental management practices and procedures.
2. Establish an environmental management system (EMS)
Based upon the results of the environmental review, establish an effective
environmental management system aimed at achieving the organization’s
environmental policy as defined by the top management. The management system
needs to define responsibilities, objectives, means, operational procedures, training
needs, monitoring and communication systems.
3. Carry out an environmental audit
Assess the management system in place and the organization’s environmental
performance in light of the organization’s environmental policy and programme as
well as of legal requirements.
4. Prepare an environmental statement
The environmental statement should specify the results that have been achieved
against the environmental objectives of the organization. It should also lay down the
means by which the organization plans to continuously improve its environmental
5. Get independent verification by an EMAS verifier
An EMAS verifier accredited with an EMAS Accreditation Body (UKAS in UK) of a
Member State must examine and verify the environmental review, EMS, and audit
procedure as well as the environmental statement.
6. Register with the Competent Body of the Member State
The validated environmental statement must be sent to the appropriate EMAS
Competent Body for registration and be made publicly available.
2.4.3 Current situation of EMAS
The number of companies registered under EMAS is far less than ISO 14001
certifications in UK. Until May 2003, 78 companies have achieved EMAS
registration (ENDS Report 342, 2003). EMAS goes one step further than ISO 14001.
The most visible difference is the need under these regulations for organizations to
make public available for their environmental policy, objectives and targets and also
their performance against the targets. Each member state appoints its competent body,
which for the UK is the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
2.5. British Standard BS 8555
2.5.1 Background information of BS 8555
BS 8555 (Environmental management systems - Guide to the phased implementation
of an environmental management system including the use of environmental
performance evaluation) is a new British standard published by the British Standard
Institute (BSI) in April 2003. The aim of BS 8555 is to provide guidance to all type of
companies but particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to achieve
externally certified environmental management systems using a phased rather than
all-or-nothing approach to implementation (ENDS 340, 2003). This new standard is
drafted based on a three-years’ project- the Acorn Trust's supply chain project.
Project Acorn was a UK based nation-wide project to help SMEs to grow and develop
their own environmental performance controls, built around the specific needs of their
own business. The project ran between 2001 - 2003 and spent the time producing and
refining a six-stage model that could ultimately take a company towards ISO 14001
certification or EMAS if they wished (The Acorn Trust, 2004).
Acorn relies on larger "mentor" companies to introduce their suppliers to the scheme.
The project's website identifies 14 organisations which are now pursuing the Acorn
approach in their supply chains. They range across sectors including finance, utilities,
manufacturing, retail and telecoms. The scheme offers a five-level approach to
implementing an environmental management system compatible with the
international standard ISO14001, and a sixth level compatible with European standard
EMAS (ENDS 337,2003).
An important outcome of the project - a new standard, BS 8555 - is released by the
British Standards Institution in April 2003. The standard takes the form of guidance
towards achieving ISO14001 or EMAS. It is not a certifiable specification in itself.
However, the accreditation service UKAS is understood to be considering some form
of recognition (ENDS 337,2003).
2.5.2 Structure of BS 8555
The phased EMS implementation approach used by BS 8555 and piloted through
Project Acorn breaks down the process of installing a formal EMS into five levels. A
sixth level allows organisations to develop systems, with the possibility of seeking
recognition against the internationally accepted EMS standard, ISO 14001, or
registering under the European EMAS Regulation.
The phased process is designed around a generic environmental management system,
but also in line with ISO 14001 and EMAS. In addition it is one of the aims of the
guidance in the standard to develop environmental performance indicators (EPIs) to
reflect the environmental aspects of activities, products or service delivery. These
EPIs can be used within the context of an EMS and as part of other performance
evaluation and reporting frameworks. The six Phases of the standard are:
1. Commitment and Establishing the Baseline.
2. Identifying and Ensuring Compliance with Legal, and other Requirements.
3. Developing Objectives, Targets and Programmes.
4. Implementation and Operation of the Environmental Management System.
5. Checking, Audit and Review.
6. Environmental Management System Acknowledgement.
Figure 2.4 illustrates the overall process for phased implementation.
Each of the six Phases has been divided into a number of key Stages. For example,
Phase 1 be has been divided into 7 Stages which shows below. For each of the Stages,
achievement criteria have been defined which the organisation will work towards, and
in turn from the basis of the assessment for each Phase.
Gaining and maintaining
Stage 6 Management commitment Stage 7
Training awareness Initiation of
and the initiation continual
of culture change improvement
Stage3 Stage 4 Stage 5
Developing a draft Developing Developing an initial
environmental environment draft environmental
Policy indicators management system
Phase 1 audit
Figure 2.4: Seven stages of phase 1 in BS 8555
Source: BS 8555, 2003
At Phase 6, meeting all the achievement criteria from the previous Phases will place
the organisation in a position to be assessed for certification to ISO 14001. Likewise,
at Phase 6, Stage 6, meeting all of the achievement criteria will place the organisation
in a position to apply for EMAS registration.
Commitment and establishing the
Identifying and ensuring compliance
with legal and other requirements
Developing objectives, targets and
Implementation and operation of the
Environmental management system
Checking, audit and review
Secoond partly auditing and Preparing for
Supply chain acknowledgement EMAS registration
Preparing for external
Assessment (BS EN ISO 14001)
Figure 2.5: overall process for phased implementation
Source: BS 8555, 2003
2.5.3 The use of BS8555
At each level of the BS 8555 implementation process, key individuals from the
implementing company can seek focused training, or use the tools available in the
standard so that they can develop their organisation’s environmental performance
controls and associated indicators. These will allow them to track and report
(internally or externally) on their organisation’s environmental performance over time,
and benchmark performance in critical areas (The Acorn Trust, 2004).
After each phase of the scheme has been implemented, the organisation can either
assess themselves through internal audits, allow major customers to assess them
against the appropriate phase criteria or be assessed by a third party to ensure that the
requirements of each phase have been met. The organisation may also choose to wait
until two or more levels have been completed. Whatever they choose, a certificate can
be issued following successful external assessment, so the company can demonstrate
progress to its key customers and other interested stakeholders.
As part of Phase 6, the organisation can choose to have an additional audit to ensure
that the organisation’s EMS meets all of the requirements of ISO 14001; if successful
the organisation would receive an ISO 14001 certificate. Additionally the
organisation’s environmental performance data can be verified and the management
system audited against the requirements of EMAS.
Organisations can enter the model described in the standard at any Phase — but they
will need to bear in mind that a later date they may need to provide evidence that they
have already completed the elements of the model included in each of the previous
Phases. For example, an organisation that has already conducted a baseline
assessment and a comprehensive assessment of its legal (and other) obligations could
enter the model at Phase 3, but they should be prepared to undertake an audit at some
stage that confirms that all the requirements of Phase’s 1 and 2 have been met.
For some organisations, particularly micro-companies, a full EMS may not be
appropriate. In this situation, organisations can choose to stay at a specific phase and
not progress to a full formal EMS or ISO 14001 certification. The company would
still need to be re-audited periodically to ensure that it is continuing to meet the
requirements of the relevant Phase and is able to demonstrate continual improvement
in its environmental performance. They may want to publish an environmental report
or make environmental performance data available to their key customers.
2.6 The UK Businesses
2.6.1 General information of the UK businesses
The UK government recognises that enterprise is a vital contributor to the health of
our economy and to diversity of opportunity in our society (SBS, 2004). Enterprise
boosts productivity, increases competition and innovation, creates employment and
prosperity, and revitalises our communities. A dynamic small business community is
central to enterprise in the UK.
The statistical definition of a small business is a business with fewer than 50
employees. However, the SBS has a wider role, and also supports medium sized
enterprises - those with 50 to 249 employees (SBS, 2004).
There are almost 3.8 million small businesses in the UK (SBS, 2004). They come in
many shapes and sizes: from high-growth start-ups to ‘lifestyle’ businesses and social
enterprises. Together they account for over 99% of the total number of UK firms and
generate 52% of total turnover. They employ 12.6 million people, representing 56%
of the private sector workforce (SBS, 2004), see figure 2.6. They form part of the
bedrock of local communities, contributing to both economic prosperity and social
cohesion in towns and in rural areas.
Figure 2.6: Share of enterprises, employment and turnover by size of enterprise, UK
Source: SBS, 2004
Despite the tremendous contribution of SMEs, they are also bringing significant
environmental impacts. It is estimated that SMEs generate about 60% of commercial
waste and as much as 80% of pollution incidents in England and Wales alone
Businesses have different legal forms. Around a quarter of businesses are companies
(incorporated business), where one or more people are employed as company
directors. However, the majority of businesses are un-incorporated – they are owned
and managed by self-employed people, either on their own or in partnership.
Two sectors dominate the UK business population (SBS, 2004)
Half of the 1.7 million VAT registered enterprises in the UK are in just two sectors-
the business services sector (real estate, renting and business activities), and
wholesale, retail and repairs (Figure 2.7). Over a third of all new VAT registrations in
2002 were in business services - this sector has seen the most growth, from 314
thousand enterprises in 1994 to 500 thousand enterprises in 2003 (SBS, 2003a).
Figure 2.7: VAT registered businesses by industry sector, per cent, UK
Source: SBS, 2004
2.6.2 EMS implementation in SMEs
Generally speaking, the smaller the business the less time and resource will be
available to address environmental issues (SME-nvironment, 2003). The
SME-nvironment 2003 survey of more than 8,000 small and medium-sized UK
businesses reveals that many of them have a poor understanding of the effects of their
activities on the environment and want more information and advice on green issues.
The survey shows that more than half of medium-sized businesses (50-250 employees)
have an environmental policy in place, while only a fifth of the smallest businesses
can say the same (SME-nvironment, 2003). And it’s a similar picture when it comes
to introducing practical environmental measures, with 44% of medium-sized
businesses having taken positive steps compared to only 20% of micro businesses.
As to the EMS implementation, there were 76 EMAS registered companies in the UK,
and almost 3,000 ISO 14001 certified organisations in the UK by 2003 (Position
statement, 2003). These numbers shows how few businesses are involved in formal
EMS implementation. The survey shows almost the same results: a tiny 3% of
businesses asked across all sizes and sectors have an accredited environmental
management system (EMS) in place and only a further 1% has any plans to introduce
The low uptake may partly be a result of ignorance about what an EMS is and the
potential benefits and costs entailed (SME-nvironment, 2003).
•The larger the business the more likely they were to have introduced an EMS.
Fourteen percent of businesses with 50-250 employees have an EMS compared with 3
per cent of businesses with 0-9 employees.
• The Mining and Quarrying sector is most likely to have implemented an EMS - 22%
of businesses asked had done so. The sectors that are least likely to have implemented
an EMS are Construction (1%), Land Transport (1%) and Printing and Publishing
2.6.3 Drivers and Barriers of EMS implementation in SMEs
SMEs face internal and external barriers when seeking to address their environmental
issues and adopt and implement EMSs, but it is the internal barriers that initially have
the more significant role in impeding progress (Hillary, 1999). Negative company
culture towards the environment and the disassociation between positive
environmental attitudes and taking action cause the uptake of environmental
performance improvements and EMS adoption to stumble at the first hurdle (Hillary,
On top of this general culture of inaction on the environment, SMEs are also very
sceptical of the benefits to be gained from making environmental improvements
(Hillary, 1999). In many cases, especially for the smaller organisations, low
awareness and the absence of pressure from customers (the most important driver for
environmental improvements and EMS adoption) and insufficient other drivers mean
that no efforts are made to address environmental issues (Hillary, 1999). SMEs also
face the problem of locating, and having the time to locate, good quality advice and
Once a SME has embarked on EMS implementation the process is often interrupted
and resources are frequently diverted to core business activities (Hillary, 1999). It is
the lack of human resources, not financial ones, which SMEs find most difficult to
secure and maintain for EMS implementation. The more multifunctional the staff, as
is common in micro and small companies, the more likely the process of
implementation will be interrupted. Some studies indicate that SMEs, once on the
route to certified EMSs, face inconsistency and high charges in the certification
SMEs are subjected to a variety of stakeholder pressures related to their
environmental performance and their adoption of EMSs.
Top 5 Stakeholders
Other Important Stakeholders
2. Local Government
3. Local community
• General public
• Larger companies
Table 2.2 Stakeholders of SMEs
Source: Hillary, 1999
Customer and supply chain are also prominent in driving SMEs environmental
improvements (Hillary, 1999). However the regulator and local authorities exert
greater influence on the general environmental performance of SMEs, in particular
medium-sized enterprises, than customers.
The general objective of this research is to analyze the advantages and disadvantages
of three environmental management systems in order to find the most suitable system
for the UK business area. The three chosen EMSs are two most popular EMSs at
present i.e. the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 and the
EU regulation EMAS and the new published British standard BS 8555.
Although there are almost 8 years since the first publication of ISO 14001 and even
one more year for EMAS, there are still many doubts and misunderstanding about
them within the UK as well as EU businesses. On the other hand, small businesses are
facing internal and external barriers when they were pushed into the EMS
implementation practice. These are main reasons for SMEs stopped in front of the
EMS implementation (Hillary, 1999). According to ENDS report, EMS initiatives are
not reaching SMEs which take up 99% of the EU's 20 million non-primary sector
private enterprises (ENDS Report 349, 2004).
However, European countries have already realized this problem and different
initiatives have been explored trying to improve the EMS implementation. The new
British standard BS 8555 is one of the good examples which drawn from the UK
supply chain program i.e. Acorn Project. It adopts a staged approach in order to help
SMEs to implement EMS easily. We have already seen some positive results of it.
Nevertheless, whether it is more suitable for the UK business than its former EMSs is
still a problem.
Although overall number of EMAS registered sites/organisations of UK is readily
available, on the basis of the available data it is much more difficult to make further
distinctions (notably in terms of size-class). This difficulty applies a fortiori to EN
ISO 14001 certifications. Finally, any meaningful, UK data on new EMS i.e. BS 8555
do not seem to exist at all. Therefore, qualitative analysis will be the method of this
3.2 Criteria of suitable EMS
The main methods of this research were literature review and a comparison between
ISO 14001, EMAS, and BS 8555. Through the review of three EMSs and relevant
literatures about their implementation experiences, a set of criteria has been created.
Then a comparison was carried out, based on these criteria, to weight these EMSs and
subsequently define the most suitable system for UK businesses.
1. Easy to start implementation
2. Costs are relatively low
3. Benefits are relatively high
4. Environmental performance are continuously improved
5. Legal compliance
6. Implementation process is easy to be control
7. Easy to get assistance
8. Good accreditation system
9. Compatible with other systems
10. Easy to diffuse
Table 3.1: Criteria of suitable EMS
1. Easy to start implementation
For those who are planning to implement an EMS, they all facing a problem: how to
start it? It is especially stubborn for SMEs who usually has less experience of
environmental management system. An easy start can eliminate hesitate and increase
2. Costs are relatively low
Pursuit of profit is the ultimate aim of business. Therefore, decision on whether
implement an EMS largely depend on how much it costs. The cost here means not
only money but also time and human resource which are all very limited for SMEs.
Therefore, lower cost can definitely attract more potential participants.
3. Benefits are relatively high
One of the reasons for EMS implementation is the benefits EMS can provides to its
users. Hilary 1999 categorized the benefits of EMS implementation for SMEs as
organisational benefits, financial benefits, people benefits, Commercial Benefits,
Environmental Benefits, and Communication Benefits. Different EMS can provide
different benefits and the more benefits the more participants.
4. Environmental performance are continuously improved
The ultimate aim of EMS is to control the participant’s environmental impacts
(Welford, 1998). Therefore implementation an EMS is not just establishing an EMS
and maintenance it but through the EMS to improve the company’s environmental
performance continuously. The one who meets this criteria better can be seen as more
suitable for businesses.
5. Legal compliance
Make sure the legal compliance is one of the basic functions of a successful EMS.
Businesses through EMS implementation should reduce the chance of conflict with
environmental legislation and regulation and thus make the company work more
6. Implementation process is easy to be control
EMS implementation is easy to be interrupted due to some more important factors
such as economic profits. Therefore, flexibility is very important for a successful
EMS. A clear structure of each stage of EMS implementation process and sufficient
control to each stage is preferable to participants.
7. Easy to get assistance
Most of the companies find it is difficult to solve all the problems during the EMS
implementation by themselves. It is necessary to get some kind of assistance form
outside. Hence, a good EMS needs a good mechanism to guide its user and easy to get
help from outside.
8. Mature accreditation system
Mature accreditation system is necessary in order to make sure the creditability of
EMS implementation. Creditability is receiving more and more concerns form EMS
participant, stakeholders as well as the competitors (ENDS Report 353, 2004). Whit
the support and guidance form accreditation body, EMS implementation can be
carried out under a proper way and be accepted by more and more companies.
9. Compatible with other systems
In additional to EMS, there are several other management systems such quality
management systems and health and safe management systems. Study shows that
compatible with other systems can cause more involvement (Best Report, 2004).
Besides, compatible with other EMSs also need to be considered because a better
compatible system has more opportunities.
10. Easy to diffuse
Diffuse here means whether an EMS is easy to be used in certain industry sector.
Studies have already focused on the implementation of EMS in certain industry
sectors on the assumption that such approach is better for the involvement of EMS
implementation, especially for SMEs.
3.3 The most suitable EMS
Given the criteria of a suitable EMS for the UK businesses, especially for SMEs, three
EMSs i.e. ISO 14001, EMAS and BS 8555 were analyzed through a comparison
based on the criteria in order to find out which one meets the most criteria. Through
such comparison, each EMS’s advantages and disadvantages can be defined which
also considered as important results. The Figure 3.1 shows the process of the
methodology of this research.
Creat criteria for
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
Advantages and disadvantages
of each EMS
Figure 3.1: Process of methodology
4.1 Easy to start implementation
Easy to start
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
1. Assistance to
2. Specific drivers
No No Supply chain
3. Easy to accept
Less requirement More requirement Staged approach
toward ISO 14001
Table 4.1: Comparison on easy to start implementation
As SMEs accounts almost 99% of the UK businesses, it is very important to attract
SMEs into EMS implementation practice. However, due to the characteristic of SMEs,
an easy start is needed to improve the implementation. The criteria can be divide into
three sub-criteria as Assistance to help SMEs engage; Drivers for implementation; and
Easy to accept for SMEs.
As table 4.1 shows, BS 8555 can help SMEs engaging the EMS implementation
through the Acorn Project which focus on the supply chain system. For those SMEs
who want to implement an EMS, usually they will find it is difficult to start since lack
of basic information and knowledge about EMS. The Acorn Project can solve this
problem by offering them a good start point. ENDS Report has already shown the
positive results of the Acorn Project. To date, 35 SMEs have successfully achieved
certification to ISO14001 through Project Acorn, with a further 15 working towards
stage 3 and 140 toward stage 2 (Best Project, 2004).
According to Hilary 1999, customer is the main driver for SMEs to implement EMS.
Compare with other two EMSs, BS 8555 considers the demands of supply chain and
satisfies both suppliers and customer. Thus, SMEs driven by supply chain pressure are
easier to chose BS 8555 as their EMS.
Requirement is also an important factor to attract SMEs to engage EMS
implementation. As EMAS require environmental statement for public available, it
may frighten SMEs (Hilary, 1999). However, BS 8555 uses a staged approach which
is easier for SMEs to accept as they can stop at any stage and get certification for
what they have already done.
4.2 Costs are relatively lower
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
Lower cost (Only
Higher cost on
choice (ISO 14001
Depend on the
Depend on the scale
need to be certified)
be simplified if
there is a ISO
Higher cost for
(within every three
years) and annual
choice (ISO 14001
Table 4.2: Comparison on costs
The cost here means not only money but also human resource and time. As to the
implementation, EMAS has the higher cost than ISO 14001 for the reason of its
reporting system i.e. environmental statement. According to Clausen 2002, publishing
environmental statement accounts for about 19% of total EMAS implementation cost
while ISO 14001 just need publish its environmental policy which usually is one
For the maintenance costs it mainly from the documents maintenance and regular
audit. EMAS costs higher than ISO 14001 because it specifies the audit cycle
frequency is not to exceed three years and an annual verification of environmental
statement while ISO 14001 not specify. Additionally, Firms with ISO 9001 systems in
place will find that the auditing required by both standards for both certification and
maintenance can be combined (Bogner, 2002).
As to the cost of certification, although there is no literature about the costs of BS
8555, BS 8555 probably cost higher because it is a staged system and need
certification for its 6 internal phases. Besides, there is significant cost if organisation
moves towards final ISO 14001 certification or EMAS registration.
4.3 Benefits are relatively higher
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
Reduce cost of
Save costs if the
want a formal EMS
Focus on system
Table 4.3: Comparison on implementation benefits
As to the financial benefits, because ISO 14001 is an international standard which be
accepted by most of the countries it brings the global opportunity to the organisation.
EMAS can bring cost reduction through its legal compliance while BS 8555 can save
more costs because it can be stopped at any stage and avoid wastes for the stages
organisation do want to go.
Compare with EMAS on organisational benefits, ISO 14001 emphasize internal
benefits such as management efficiency more than outside benefits. EMAS can create
better outside relationship with stakeholder and authorities through its reporting
system. While BS 8555 can bring suppliers and customers together through the Acorn
Project therefore create better supply chain relationship.
To environmental benefits, EMAS has better environmental feedback. IRIS 2000
finds that “EMAS registered companies seem to achieve a better environmental
performance than companies with only ISO 14001.” It is probably because the
certification process of the IS0 14001 standard covers only the management system;
in the EMAS scheme the information dealing with emissions and environmental
impacts is also checked (Honkasalo, 1998). By using indicators and performance
evaluation techniques based on ISO 14031, BS 8555 paying particular attention to the
environmental performance (Gascoigne, 2002).
4.4 Environmental performance are continuously improved
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
1. Emphasis Emphasize EMS
itself and assume
good EMS means
2. Review and
time, IER required
3. Actual results Worse than
Lack of literature
Table 4.4: Comparison on environmental performance continual improvement
EMAS emphasizes environmental sides much more strict than ISO 14001. EMAS
annex 1 shows the requirement that environmental policy should includes a
commitment to continual improvement and prevention of pollution (EMAS, 2001).
However, ISO 14001 does not have such requirement because it simply assumes that
good EMS leads to good environmental performance. BS 8555 also emphasizes the
environmental performance improvement and there is one stage (Phase5 stage 4) for
improving environmental performance (BS 8555, 2003).
EMAS also identify environmental effects through carrying out the initial
environmental review (IRE) which is a compulsory part of EMAS while ISO 14001
has no such demand. Additionally, the identification of environmental effects must
include specified areas concern, as defined in EMAS while ISO 14001 no such
restriction. Furthermore, during the auditing process, EMAS require EMS as well as
environmental aspects are checked. This is the same as BS 8555 which monitors
improvements in environmental performance over time, and gives organisations
evidence of their progress along the way that they can show to existing and potential
customers (Gascoigne, 2002), while ISO 14001 has no such requirement.
To the actual results of environmental performance improvement, EMAS cause better
environmental performance than ISO 14001. IRIS 2000 finds that “EMAS registered
companies seem to achieve a better environmental performance than companies with
only ISO 14001.” There are no literatures about environmental effects of BS 8555
available but positive results probably can be gained in the future.
4.5 Legal compliance
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
1. Description in
procedures in place
No restriction can
of registration at
Phase 2 audit
3. Actual results Non-compliance
can be found
Agency has more
faith in EMAS
Table 4.5: Comparison on legal compliance
EMAS has an emphasis on legal compliance. EMAS 2001 describe this in its Annex1
B that organisations shall be able to demonstrate that (a) they have identified all
relevant environmental legislation; (b) provide for legal compliance with
environmental legislation; and (c) have procedures in place that enable the
organisation to meet these requirements on an ongoing basis. Like EMAS, BS 8555
also emphasis legal compliance and spend one entire phase (Phase 2) to make sure the
legal requirements can be defined, checked, and keeping complied. In addition, BS
8555 ask organisation to develop compliance indicators. Compare with EMAS and
BS 8555, ISO 14001 just need a legal compliance commitment in organisation’s
Both EMAS and BS 8555 have some kind of restriction focus on legal compliance
during the EMS implementation. For EMAS, it allows regulators to request
withdrawal of registration at non-compliant sites (ENDS 332, 2002). For BS 8555, at
the end of each phase there is an audit and fail to satisfy the successful criteria will
lead to EMS implementation process stop. Therefore, organisation who chooses BS
8555 must show their legal compliance in order to move on phase 3.
Although study shows that industrial sites with certified environmental management
systems (EMSs) are no more likely to comply with legal requirements than sites
without them (ENDS 332, 2002). Environmental Agency has more confidence in
working with EMAS than with ISO14001 on legal compliance problem (ENDS
Report 327, 2002). As to BS 8555, it is too early to draw any conclusion about its
legal compliance effects.
4.6 Implementation is easy to control
easy to control
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
Each phase is
manageable as a
2. Process control Once audit only Once audit only Each phase has an
audit process plus
an final formal
audit in phase 5
Only ISO 14001 Only EMAS
Stop at early phase
or towards supply
ISO 14001 or
Table 4.6: Comparison on the control of implementation process
BS 8555 divides the EMS into five clearly distinguishable, consecutive phases. Such
staged approaches allow companies to progress towards a full EMS (either EN ISO
14001/ISO 14001 or EMAS, certified if so required) at a pace best suited to their
resources (Best Report, 2004). The interest for an SME lies especially in the planning
advantages in terms of resources, as each phase is manageable as a separate
investment project and can be better planned in time. Differ from BS 8555, resource
consumes of ISO 14001 and EMAS are all continuous and difficult for organisations
As to implementation process control, at the end of each phase of BS 8555 there is an
audit needed to check whether the phase is finished satisfactory. Such checking
mechanism provides organisations opportunity to control their EMS implementation
under correct condition. In addition, there is a system and performance audit in phase
5 which provides overall review of the various elements of the EMS. This is the same
function as the audit process of ISO 14001 and EMAS.
Another control BS 8555 brings to organisations is destination control. While ISO
14001 and EMAS just move towards their only destination respectively, organisations
who choose BS 8555 can choose stop at each phase and get some kind of certification
or move to phase 6 which leads to three other destinations: supply chain acknowledge;
ISO 14001 certification; and EMAS registration. Therefore, organisations can control
their EMS destination during the first 5 phases.
4.7 Easy to get assistance
Easy to get
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
ISO 14004 Requirement of
SMEs can be
found in the
List of supporting
techniques for each
EMAS Tool Kit)
mentor (the Acorn
Table 4.7: Comparison on assistance
Internal assistance here means information assistance which organisations can get
form EMS standards. Organisations choose ISO 14001can get help form its additional
guidance - ISO 14004 i.e. Environmental management system – General guidelines
on principles, systems and supporting techniques. For those who choose BS 8555, the
standard attached with a useful table which lists supporting tools and techniques for
each stage of implementation. As to EMAS, its only requires its Member States to
establishing or promoting technical assistance measures for users but no attached
documents can offer help.
In order to promote EMS implementation especially focus on SMEs, various external
assistances are available for organisations. Some kinds of finical and information
supports are available for ISO and EMAS participators. For example, Internet-based
support tools, such as websites or databases, are used as a source of technical
information by almost every country (Best Report, 2004). Networks such as the UK
Green Business Clubs, EnviroWise and the on-line EMAS Tool Kit can offer
technical information or implementation supports. Differ form ISO and EMAS, BS
8555 seek assistance form its supply chain program (the Acorn Project), a good
example can be found form the UK construction sector. It combines sector-specificity
with the mentoring capacity of the supply chain, i.e. a “vertical network” (Best Report,
4.8 Good recognition system
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
Phases audits only
audit, system audit
can be conducted by
internal or external
UKAS UKAS Still under
Table 4.8: Comparison on recognition system
Welford 1998 points out that external audit carry more weight. Therefore, the system
with external audit has higher recognition. Both ISO 14001 and EMAS are formal
EMSs and need external audit in order to get ISO 14001 certification or EMAS
registration. There are competent auditors responsible for this activity i.e. competent
certifiers for ISO 14001 certification and competent verifiers for EMAS verification.
However, BS 8555 does not have very strict requirement about external checking. The
phase audits are all internal audits which conducted by the organisation itself.
Although there is a system and performance audit which is different in scope and
nature from the phase audits (BS 8555, 2003), it can be conducted by either internal
or external auditors.
In order to improve the recognition of ISO 14001 certification and EMAS registration,
the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is pointed as the national body
for the accreditation of independent environmental certifiers and verifiers and for the
supervision of their activities. The BS 8555 takes the form of guidance towards
achieving ISO14001 or EMAS. It is not a certifiable specification in itself. Therefore,
it has no accreditation system for itself.
However, the accreditation service UKAS is understood to be considering some forms
of recognition for BS 8555 (ENDS Report 337, 2003). Following a feasibility study of
the options, it has therefore been proposed to develop an accredited 'inspection'
scheme for BS 8555 which will enable formal recognition to be given of the stages
completed (Best Report, 2004).
4.9 Other criteria
ISO 14001 EMAS BS 8555
ISO 9001 quality
14001 as its
Towards ISO 14001
2. Easy to diffuse No literature
Table 4.9: Comparison on other criteria
One reason against EMAS is the belief that ISO 14001 can be easier integrated with
ISO 9001 management system and therefore certainly raises efficiency (Best Report,
2004). This reason should be removed by the integration of elements of ISO 14 001 in
EMAS II. The BS8555 towards achieving ISO 14001 and EMAS after phase 5.
Therefore, the compatibility with these two systems should be no doubt.
There is considerable sectoral variation in the uptake of EMSs, including amongst
SMEs. Whilst in some sectors the prevalence of formal EMSs is comparatively high
(e.g. metal products, chemicals, food and beverages), in others (e.g. the extractive
industry) it is much lower (Best Report, 2004). Against this background, BS 8555
offers a good means through the Acorn Project to diffuse the EMS within supply
chain. Positive results have already been found in the UK construction sector.
However, relevant literature about ISO 14001 and EMAS is unavailable.
7.1 Comparison results
The comparison of this research is based on the criteria and relevant sub-criteria
which have been created in order to identify the suitable EMS for UK businesses.
From the comparison element we can see that ISO 14001, EMAS, or BS 8555 have
their own advantages and disadvantages when they are compared to each other.
Although such differences were not shown in a quantitative way in this research, they
are significant enough for UK businesses to take note of during the period of their
7.1.1 Characteristics of ISO 14001
The international EMS standard – ISO 14001 is currently the most popular
environmental management system. Many of the UK’s corporations (either big,
medium, or small) have certified their EMS under the ISO 14000 standards during the
past several years, and many other companies are in the process of doing so.
The reason why most companies prefer ISO 14001 is because it is better in many
areas than its main competitor - EMAS. First of all, according to the comparison, the
implementation of ISO 14001 is relatively cheaper and costs less time and human
resource, therefore make users making it affordable. Because of the fewer
requirements, such as environmental reporting to the public, and an annual external
audit, organisations that adopt ISO 14001 can save more costs than those who choose
EMAS. It is very important for businesses, especially SMEs, since usually they do not
have enough money to engage in EMS implementation.
Another reason for choosing ISO 14001 is its international standard status. As an
international standard ISO 14001 is recognized by most of the countries around the
world and therefore bring the organisations the global market opportunities. For
example, the UK suppliers who have ISO 14001 certifications can be accepted by
customers around the world while those registered with EMAS probably only can be
accepted within European Union. This is because EMAS is only a EU regulation and
unfamiliar or unaccepted by non-EU countries (Whitelaw, 1997).
Furthermore, ISO 14001 has relatively longer implementation history (8 years). On
the one side, there is plenty of experience that can be gained from those who have
already obtained ISO 14001 certification. In addition, assistance from external sources
such as the Internet is usually easily accessible. On the other side, ISO 14001 has an
accreditation system (the UKAS) in place, which has improved its credibility and
makes organisations confident enough to implement this standard.
The ISO 14001 also has many shortcomings. The most often heard criticism is that
ISO 14001 certification does not measure the actual environmental performance of a
plant or company (Krut and Gleckman, 1998). Although there is a guideline (ISO
14031) for environmental performance evaluation, it has no requirement to assess
whether the organisation’s environmental performance achieves continuous
improvement. The ISO 14001 standard simply assumes that a good environmental
management system will, if they are implemented effectively, lead to continuous
environmental performance improvement. However, many people argue that such an
assumption is not correct (Rondinell, 2000) and the best way is adopting external
verification to make sure such improvement actually occurs.
The other shortcomings of ISO 14001 include less emphasis on legal compliance and
a low emphasis on making information publicly available. Compared with EMAS and
BS 8555, ISO 14001 pays less attention on legal compliance. In other words, an
organisation’s risk of conflicting with legal requirements is higher than EMAS and
BS 8555 since they ask more in order to make sure the legal compliance is adhere to.
The organisations certified with ISO 14001 only need publish their environmental
policy which appears not to satisfy most stakeholders and, it often follows poorer
7.1.2 Characteristics of EMAS
Although EMAS is not as popular as ISO 14001, it is a strong competitor to ISO
14001 in the EMS implementation market. Even though they have a competitive
relationship they are by no means totally different. Inedde, EMAS is very similar in
many areas with ISO 14001. Both of them use the ‘plan – do – check – act’ cycle to
structure the main body of the EMS. They also have several stages same either in
name or function. In short, the requirements of ISO 14001 have been recognized
under EMAS as corresponding to certain of the management system requirements of
EMAS since 1997 (Welford, 1998) and integrated into EMAS II during the EMAS
revision EMAS (Clausen, 2002).
Except for the compatibility of these two systems, EMAS has its own edge as an EMS.
EMAS follows the steps of ISO 14001 but goes beyond ISO 14001. It has stricter
requirements in environmental performance evaluation, the auditing cycle, and legal
compliance. Besides, as a very important part of EMAS, reporting system i.e.
environmental report must be available to the public and needs external auditing
annually. All these rigorous requirements make sure the aim of EMS implementation
can be achieved. Much literature shows that organisations choose EMAS registration
have better environmental performance than those choose ISO 14001 certification
Although it has a distinct edge over ISO 14001, EMAS also has obvious limitations.
Most of all limitations are the higher cost for implementation. The additional costs of
environmental reporting makes many SMEs frightened and changes them adopting
ISO 14001. The geographical limitation of EMAS is also a problem because EMAS is
only valid within EU countries. The “world wide validity” is an important reason for
some organisations to choose ISO 14001 certification. Another reason against EMAS
is put forward by Hillary (1999), who argues that there is a “fear of de-registration for
minor breaches of legislation”, which makes EMAS an unattractive proposition for
7.1.3 Characteristics of BS 8555
First of all, BS 8555 is a British standard which means it has a formal status among
some other ways (such as the way of EMS club) to promote the EMS implementation.
On the other hand, unlike the formal EMS (ISO 14001 and EMAS), BS 8555 as a
national standard is probably more suitable for the UK businesses. The reason for this
is because during its creating process, it considered in some detail the characteristics
of UK businesses. Therefore, it aims to provide EMS implementation guidance for all
organizations but particularly SMEs. However, since SMEs’ environmental impacts
are a universal problem around the EU, BS 8555 can also be adopted by other
countries and maybe influence the subsequent development of ISO 14001 and EMAS
as its precursor BS 7750 (the first EMS standard) appears to have done.
The most distinct character of BS 8555 from ISO 14001 and EMAS is its staged
approach. It breaks down the whole EMS implementation process into five phases and
followed with phase six which towards ISO 14001 certification or EMAS registration.
Such a staged approach can provide companies with an easy way to start
implementation and let them control the whole implementation process under the pace
they prefer. This is particularly important for SMEs as their resources are usually
limited. Besides, for those who do have interest in completing the whole EMS process,
it is also a good choice. BS 8555 is not the only staged approach available at this
moment. The others include: the 3 - phased EMS implementation scheme in Ireland,
“e+5” in Spain and “On the Way to EMAS with ISO 14001” in Sweden (Best Report,
Another merit of BS 8555 is its clear relationship to ISO 14001 and EMAS. Instead of
a completely different standard, BS 8555 is more like a helpful approach for those
who want to get ISO 14001 certification or EMAS registration but which is not as
well-equipped as a large company in terms of money, time and human resource.
Therefore, choosing BS 8555 will not conflict with the ultimate aim of ISO 14001
certification or EMAS registration. On the contrary, it will helpful in promoting the
ISO 14001 and EMAS implementation.
The BS 8555 is a output of the UK supply chain project (Acorn Project). In fact, the
Acorn Project is not only the origin of BS 8555 but also can be used to popularize it.
The SMEs involved in the Acorn Project are all using this staged EMS
implementation approach and get outside assistance from bigger companies (the
customers, so called ‘mentor’). Through the project, most of the companies
successfully became involved in EMS implementation and have moved towards ISO
14001 or EMAS.
Compared with ISO 14001 and EMAS, BS 8555 is a very young system. It inevitably
has some shortcomings. The most serious barrier for its spread is lacking an
appropriate recognition system. Because BS 8555 has five phases before starting on
ISO 14001 certification and EMAS verification it needs some formal recognition for
each of these five phases. But such a recognition system is still under development.
The other problem is a current lack of implementation experience; however, time will
ease this issue. Unlike ISO 14001 or EMAS, which have longer implementation
histories, BS 8555 has only just been created. Therefore, both the participant and
external auditor as well as authorities all need to explore the best implementation
7.2 ISO 14001, EMAS or BS 8555?
From the comparison between ISO 14001, EMAS, and BS 8555 we can see that each
of these three systems has their own advantages and disadvantages. So which one is
more suitable for the UK businesses in their EMS implementation? Choosing the most
appropriate system needs a comprehensive consideration about not only the
characteristics of each system but also the reason and purpose of the organisation’s