Stepping stones and ladders: Unfolding the dynamics of Environmental Management Systems

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Leicester University


School of Business and Law




Alevizou, P.J., Henninger, C.E., & Redmond, J. (2016) Stepping stones and ladders: Unfolding the dynamics of Environmental Management Systems. In Proceedings of the Conference on Scaling Sustainability: Regulation and Resilience in Managerial Responses to Climate Change. Leicester, UK: Leicester University.


Sustainable development, a global priority in the 21st century, is reflected in the continuous improvement of environmental guidelines and policies (Teriö & Kähkönen 2011). Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) act as control mechanisms to encourage environmentally conscious behaviour across a variety of industry sectors, and to support companies to meet environmental goals particularly those demanded by their stakeholders (von Ahsen 2014). EMSs are defined as “practical tools that enable an organisation to identify and control their environmental impact and improve their environmental performance” (ISO 2014) and have gained importance since 1996 with the emergence of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 series (Massoud et al. 2010; Cassells et al. 2012). This research explores the dynamics of standardisations and focuses on multiple EMSs in the UK and Australia: 1) BS8555 (Acorn) – a UK government supported directive that is seen as a steppingstone for the ISO 14001 series and EMAS; 2) ISO 14001 – a globally applicable standard that acts in accordance with private law and applicable in both the UK and Australia, but is not covered under any legal basis (IEMA n.d.); 3) EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) – a European Union initiative that is compatible with the European Regulation number 1221/2009 (IEMA 2011) and is incorporated in the EU 2020 strategy (Europa, 2014); 4) Green Stamp – an Australian standard that targets specific SME industries (e.g. printing) and provides them with assistance and guidance to manage their environmental impact (Printnet 2014).

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