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Environmental Management System Approach for Effectiveness

Distinguish strong environmental performers and reward them!

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Tracks of Environmental Performance

A new approach to environmental policy advocated by state agencies and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to create "tracks" of environmental performance.

The philosophy behind performance track programs is simple: distinguish strong environmental performers from weak ones and give strong firms special recognition and rewards such as enforcement forbearance and flexibility.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

The implementation of an environmental management system (EMS), is one criterion agencies are using to determine which companies deserve special treatment.

Policymakers should bear in mind that the EMS tool by itself is not necessarily sufficient for firms to create superior environmental improvement.

EMS Improvements for Corporate Social Responsibility

Improvements may depend much more on
    How effectively and ambitiously an EMS is implemented
  • How well the organization is managed overall
  • How committed the managers are to seeing that the firm achieves real and continuous improvement.

Reduced regulatory oversight may actually weaken the programs that firms implement, because incentives for using their EMS aggressively to achieve positive outcomes may be reduced.

An agency mandate for broad EMS adoption might lead to a variety of responses from firms, including the adoption of systems with trivial environmental goals. Instead, policymakers should consider providing technical assistance to firms interested in EMS implementation and recognizing EMS firms with certificates of participation, product labeling, or government-sponsored publicity.

SOURCE: Government Innovators Network, Harvard University
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Edited by Carolyn Allen
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