Environmental Management Systems and Tools Analysis

Juozas Ruzevicius

Abstract


This article presents an analysis of changes in the development and expansion of implementation of organizations’’ environmental protection measures, as influenced by globalization and internationalization processes on the world’s economy and various fields of activity, and their impact on competitiveness. The study describes the system of international environmental certification and other sustainable development protection measures, encompassing the eco-labeling of products, accommodation and recreation services, forest and timber supply chains, the energy certification of buildings, the ISO ecological and ergonomic certification of computer equipment and mobile phones, identification of packaging materials, environmental management systems (EMS) certification, etc. The article also presents the international benchmarking of the ecological footprint – an integral indicator reflecting sustainable development. It should be noted that the current level of human consumption already exceeds the Earth‘s ecological potential, i.e., the ecological footprint of all the countries in the world exceeds nature‘s capacity for regeneration. Lithuania has a positive ecological balance, meanwhile, the ecological footprint of the Ukraine and Belarus exceeds the country’s biological potential respectively by 0.3 and 0.4 global hectares per person.The features and problem areas of EMS (namely, ISO 14001 and EMAS), and the process of implementation of other measures in Lithuania and in an international context are also presented. For a more objective comparison of sustainable development in individual countries and regions, the author suggests the use of a new indicator – the number of certificates (ISO 14001, EMAS, ecological products, etc.) per 1 million inhabitants of a country’s total population. Although there was a marked increase in the implementation of ISO 14001 systems in recent years, according to the number of implemented environmental management systems per 1 million inhabitants, Lithuania lags considerably behind not only the most developed nations, but also some of the new EU countries. To date, there are no EMAS environmental systems in place in Lithuania, yet they are being successfully implemented in other EU countries and in the neighbouring Baltic countries. The main reason why this type of system of environmental measures has not been implemented in Lithuania is an inadequate understanding on the part of the leaders of organizations of the essential differences between EMAS and ISO 14001 (this was noted by 89% of respondents). It is recommended that the government institutions responsible for formulating Lithuania’s environmental policies boost their environmental certification infrastructure, carry out the realistic development of “green purchases”, and encourage Lithuanian organizations to create and certify EMAS environmental systems, while secondary schools should be drawn into the globally acknowledged and effective Kids’ ISO 14000 programs. The implementation of such a program in our country is very important and deserves to receive government funding as well as funding from business organizations declaring their social responsibility. The education of children in environmental awareness is one of the most important ways to solve environmental concerns in Lithuania and throughout the world, and to develop the way towards creating an ecological balance. Effective environmental education should also involve tertiary students from all disciplines, business enterprises, and public sector and government administration institutions.


Keywords


environmental management system, sustainable development, ISO 14001, EMAS, eco-labeling, certification, environmental footprint, benchmarking.

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Print ISSN: 1392-2785
Online ISSN: 2029-5839