How Effective is the Implementation of BS8555 and Support Available to SMEs; Lessons Learned from Northern Irish SMEs
By William Mark Dawson
Thesis presented in part-fulfilment of Master of Science in accordance with the regulations of the University of East Anglia
School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia University plain Norwich NR4 7TJ © William Mark Dawson
This copy of the dissertation has been supplied on the condition that anyone who consults it is understood to recognise that its copyright rests with the author and that no quotation from the dissertation, nor any information derived there from, 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.
ABSTRACT The importance of engaging SMEs in formal environmental management is increasingly being recognised, especially due to the significance of the sectors contribution to the UK’s economy and its potential to create environmental pollution. Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) are seen as a proactive tool for addressing environmental impacts in businesses. BS8555 was launched officially in 2003 as an EMS standard specifically designed with SMEs in mind. The objective of this research is to understand the process of implementing BS8555 and how the standard could be improved further. An additional objective is to determine how support in Northern Ireland has been influential in the uptake of BS8555. In order to identify features of effective SME support and relevant issues surrounding the effectiveness of BS8555, an extensive literature review was conducted which enabled a structured interview schedule to be developed. SMEs which have implemented BS8555 and used support offered by the STEM project were interviewed about their experiences of BS8555 and the support offered. The results show that the free support and guidance offered by the STEM project has been pivotal in encouraging and enabling organisations achieve phase 3 of BS8555. However, the results suggest that once SMEs are engaged in the process of EMS implementation, confidence in abilities grow and benefits start to be realised influencing further progress, even though the support has ceased. of the traditional barriers faced by SMEs. The findings confirm that the staged approach utilised by BS8555 is effective in challenging many However effective SME support is identified as being integral to the standard’s success. The low level of recognition received by organisations, and the robustness of BS8555 as a ‘stand alone’ standard are identified, as weaknesses of the approach.
Abstract…………………………………………………………………………….2 Contents…………………………………………………………………………….3 List of Figures……………………………………………………………………...5 Abbreviations………………………………………………………………………6 Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………...7 1.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………………… 8 1.1 The Birth of Environmental Management Systems…………………….8 1.2 Importance of Engaging SMEs In Environmental Management……….10 1.3 What drives SMEs to adopt an EMS?……………………………….….11 1.4 Barriers to Implementation of an EMS in an SME……………………..13 2.0 Research Context………………………………………………………………16 2.1 Incremental Approaches to EMS………………………………………..16 2.2 Overview of BS8555……………………………………………………18 2.3 Portrayed effectiveness of BS8555…………………………………….. 22 2.4 Identified Limitations of BS8555 ………………………………………24 2.5 Role Played by support Mechanisms and Services……………………..25 2.6 Limitations of past SME Environmental Support ………………………25 2.7 Best Practice Support Programme………………………………………27 2.8 Northern Ireland the Region in Context………………………………...31 2.9 SME EMS in Northern Ireland………………………………………….31 2.10 Rational for Research………………………………………………….34 3.0 Research Approach …………………………………………………………...35 3.1 Identifying Organisations that have used BS8555……………………... 35 3.2 Approach Used In Contacting Organisations…………………………...36 3.3 Support Services and EMS Consultant Interview Approach…………... 37 3.4 Description of the Sample……………………………………………… 38 3.5 Justification of the Research Technique………………………………...39 3.6 Interview Schedule Design and Content……………………………….. 42
4.0 Results and Discussion 4.1 Drivers to implementing an EMS through the STEM project…………. 45 4.2 Benefits gained from implementing an EMS…………………………...47 4.3 Motivations for becoming with the STEM Project……………………..48 4.4 Future EMS Plans ………………………………………………………51 4.5 The Level of Recognition gained from implementing BS8555………...52 4.6 The Effectiveness of BS8555…………………………………………...55 4.7 The Effectiveness of the STEM Project………………………………...58 4.8 The Effectiveness of Other Environmental Support…………… ………67 5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations…………………………………………..69 5.1Conclusions of the Research……………………………………………. 69 5.2 Limitations of the Research……………………………………………. 72 5.3 Recommendations for further Research………………………………...72 6.0 References……………………………………………………………………... 73 7.0 Appendices……………………………………………………………………...79 Appendix: 1. Initial Email…………………………………………………………...80 Appendix: 2. Structured Interview Schedule………………………………………. .81
FIGURES Figure 2.0 Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 3.0 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 4.0 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8 Figure 4.9 Figure 4.10 Figure 4.12 Figure 4.13 Figure 4.14 Figure 4.15 The Six Phases of BS8555…………………………………………. 21 Over Coming Traditional Barriers with BS8555…………………... 23 Proposed Best Practice Support Framework………………………..30 Organisation Contact Approach…………………………………….37 Breakdown of Organisation Size…………………………………... 38 Interview Schedule Literature Themes…………………………….. 43 Importance of EMS Drivers………………………………………... 45 Benefits of EMS Implementation………………………………….. 47 Environmental Initiatives Engaged in Before STEM Project………49 Consideration of Implementing an EMS……………………………49 Organisations prepared to pay for Outside Support………………...50 Future EMS Plans………………………………………………….. 51 Recognition of BS8555……………………………………………..52 Change in the Level of Recognition……………………………….. 54 Effectiveness of BS8555 Components……………………………...55 Possible Improvements to BS8555………………………………… 56 STEM Project Marketing Method…………………………………..58 Importance of Support Features……………………………………. 61 Importance of Modes of Support Delivery………………………. 62 Possible Improvement of the STEM Project………………………..64 Effectiveness of Other Support Services……………………………67
ABBREVIATIONS BSI CEN DEFRA DTI EMAS EMS EU IEMA ISO NQA SME STEM UNCED British Standards Institute Comite Europe de Normislation Department of Environment Framing and Rural Affairs Department of Trade and Industry Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Environmental Management System European Union Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment International Organisation for Standardization National Quality Assurance Small and Medium sized Enterprise Sustainability Through Environmental Management United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
Firstly thanks must go to my advisor Tracey Nitz for her invaluable guidance and support in undertaking this research project. Thanks must also go to all the organisations that took part in the research, as without their time and input the research project would not have been possible. In addition thanks must go to all the professionals who offered their valuable time and assistance in particular, Dianne Moore and Paul Burr at White Young Green and Fiona Walker at Invest NI. Finally thanks must go to all the characters on the EIAAMS MSc this year for making the year overall enjoyable.
1.0 INTRODUCTION 1.1 The Birth of Environmental Management Systems Starkey (1998 p21) defines an environmental management system (EMS) “as a system consisting of a number of interrelated elements that function together to achieve the objective of effectively and efficiently managing those activities, products or services of an organisation which have an impact on the environment”. EMSs essentially provide an organisation with a structured framework for identifying, evaluating, managing and improving their environmental performance. Without a formalised structured approach certain potentially polluting activities of a company could be overlooked and improvements in environmental performance could be difficult to measure effectively (Bradley 2005). The acknowledgment of EMSs led to the development of national and international standards that provide organisations with a generic framework to implementing an EMS within their organisation (Netherwood 1998). The British Standards Institute (B.S.I) started work on the development of the world’s first EMS standard in 1990, and subsequently published BS7750 in 1994. BS7750 was published on the basis of a two-year pilot study, which involved 230 organisations (Starkey 1998). At a similar time to the development of BS7750, the European Commission proposed the development of an Eco Audit Scheme, the requirements of which were very similar to that of BS7750. The Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) emerged from this proposal after a number of initial alterations and the scheme was published as council regulation 136/93 in 1993 and open to company participation from 1995 (Bradley 2005). A need for improved environmental quality through systematic standards was envisaged at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (Bansal and Bogner 2002). The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) set up a committee to develop an EMS standard following on from the conference and in 1995 ISO14001 was finalised.
IS014001 was developed much more quickly than previous quality standards, as it relied substantially on the BS7750 framework and became a stepping stone to EMAS as both standards are intrinsically linked (Steger 2000). In 1994 the European commission mandated the Comite Europe de Normailsation (CEN) to produce a Europeam standard with consistent requirements with EMAS, they realisied that some organisations may pefer to meet EMAS requirements by becoming certified to an equivalent standard. CEN in 1996 concluded that ISO14001 could meet this mandate as a European standard and this lead to all equivalent standards such as BS7750 being withdrawn in March 1997 (Starkey 1998). ISO 14001 has become the dominant standard internationally and was revised in 2004, while EMAS, which is argued to be more stringent, has been widely adopted in the European Union (Morrow and Rondinelli 2002). More recently, the British Standard Institute published BS8555 for phased implementation in 2003. It follows a staged approach to implementation leading to certification to ISO14001 or registration to EMAS (Bradley 2005). Sheldon (2003) documents that BS8555 was developed out of Project Acorn, a UK wide pilot scheme which ran from 2001 to 2003, funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and supported by the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and White Young Green consultants (WYG). A formal EMS framework approach is not always adopted by organisations. Organisations can adopt EMSs, which are customised to their own requirements, or certain components of ISO14001 or EMAS can be adopted without being externally verified (O’Laoire and Welford 1995). However using a standardised approach such as ISO1400 will gain additional recognition. The UK government have recently documented that using an externally certified EMS should lead to positive environmental outcomes (DEFRA 2005). Early results from the research into Eco Management and Audit Scheme (REMAS) effectiveness have found strong evidence to support the hypothesis that the adoption of an accredited EMS such as IS014001 or EMAS leads to an overall improvement in environmental performance (EC 2004b).
1.2 Importance of Engaging SMEs in Environmental Management Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) according to the EU definition, can be categorised into three subgroups consisting of micro enterprises (1 to 9 employees) small enterprises (10 to 49 employees) and medium enterprises (50 to 259 employees), which have a turnover not exceeding 50 million Euro, and an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million Euro (Article 2 of recommendation 2003/361/EC). SMEs make a significant contribution to the United Kingdoms (UK’s) gross domestic product. Together SMEs account for more than half of the The UK Department of Trade and employment (58.5%) and turnover (51.3 %) in the UK (DTI 2005), and are estimated to make up 99.9% of all businesses (DTI 2005). Industry (DTI) further estimated in 2005 that almost 99.3% of enterprises defined as a SME have 0 to 49 employees, while only 0.6% are medium sized. Until recently, the drive to reduce the impact of business on the environment has primarily focused on larger companies. But it is obvious that all business however large or small has some impact on the environment (Netregs 2005). Individually SMEs may have an insignificant impact on the environment in terms of scale, but taken collectively this impact may be very significant. The collective environmental impact of SMEs either at a national or regional level is unknown. However it is widely quoted that as a sector they could contribute 70% of all industrial pollution in the UK (Hillary 1995), however this figure is unsubstantiated due to the lack of quantifiable data (Tilley 1999). Furthermore SMEs can be seen as being far from homogenous, due to the broad nature of the categorisation itself, making it difficult to generalise about their environmental impacts (Biondi et al 2000).
EMSs are seen as a key means of controlling and reducing adverse environmental externalities in businesses. They are amongst the most widely adopted voluntary environmental tools (Starkey 1998). Yet the adoption of EMSs in SMEs has been very limited to date and current standards such as ISO14001 and EMAS are often seen by SMEs as being too generic, strategic and bureaucratic (Gerstenfield and Roberts 2000). SMEs have not exhibited the same level of commitment to these new management system tools as larger organisations (Williams et al 2000). The authors of ISO14001 until recently have maintained that their standard is relevant to all organisations, including SMEs (Starkey 2000). However it is estimated that only 0.07% of SMEs in the UK are registered to the EMAS or ISO 14001 EMS standard (Hillary 1999) further reiterating the fact that certain barriers must exist between SMEs and larger firms. 1.3 What Drives SMEs to Adopt an EMS? O’Laoire and Welford (1995) argue that SMEs generally place the environment relatively low down their list of priorities, instead adopting more reactive approaches to environmental management. However, certain drivers have been identified that are increasingly influential in encouraging SMEs into adopting a formal EMS. Driving forces such as supply chain pressure, regulatory requirements and customer influences are seen by Tilley (1999) as mechanisms that enlighten and empower small firms to operate more responsibly. A number of authors such as Hillary (2004), Bansal and Bogner (2002), Evangelinos and Halkos (2002) and Biondi et al (2000) have found the main drivers of EMS adoption in SMEs to be: Supply Chain Pressure Gascogine (2002), Hillary (2004) Bansal and Bogner (2002) Dalhammar (2000), Evangelinos and Halkos (2002), Presuss (2005) and Handfield et al (2005) argue that stakeholder pressure in the form of supply chain requirements is a fundamental driver to for SMEs in adopting an EMS. Large blue chip companies who have improved their environmental performance through IS0 14001 or EMAS are now turning their attention towards suppliers and subcontractors many of which are SMEs. However, despite many successes in this area and the potential for “supply chain” greening in the future, Merritt (1998) and Simpson et al (2004) argue that there is little evidence of supply chain greening becoming widespread.
Merritt (1998) and Simpson et al’s (2004) claim is substantiated by fact that many firms still have done nothing to tackle their supply chains (ENDS 2005). Other Stakeholders Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Hillary (1999) Biondi et al (2000) and Dalhammar (2000) argue stakeholder pressure can also come from enforcing authorities, local residents, insurers and banks, employees and the general public to improve environmental performance. Legislation and regulatory requirements Hillary (2004), O’Laoire and Welford (1995), Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Lynch-wood and Williamson (2005) argue Legislation and regulatory requirements are also likely to be significant drivers in the adoption of EMSs by SMEs. Indeed, Hillary (2004) found legislation and regulation to be most important driver of all. The main benefit of adopting an EMS is often heralded as including the following (Hillary 1999, Biondi et al 2000, Dalhammer 2000): • • • • • • • • • Improved customer Satisfaction Attraction of new customers Improved environmental performance Improved organisational and management efficiency Rationalisation of activities Improved efficiency and quality Improved image Cost savings Assured legal compliance
However evidence of the benefits of EMSs in SMEs is somewhat anecdotal and improved image is not always likely to result in an increase in business (Merrit 1998), in reality, the barriers to EMS implementation are often perceived by SMEs to outweigh any potential benefits that may be incurred (Biondi et al 2000).
1.4 Barriers to Implementation of an EMS in an SME The low uptake of EMSs in SMEs as documented by Hillary (2000) and others and their recognition as fundamental tools for improving environmental performance (EC 2004b) has prompted many authors to investigate the disparities and barriers that SMEs face when compared with larger organisations. However it must be Hillary understood that barriers applicable to some SMEs may not be applicable to others due to the heterogeneous nature of SMEs (Gerstenfield and Roberts 2000). SMEs. Internal Barriers • • • • Resources Lack of awareness and understanding Attitudes and company culture Implementation and lack of expertise (1999) argues that there are both internal and external barriers to EMS adoption in
Lack of resources can be identified as the key internal barrier to EMS implementation in SMEs Hillary (1999), Biondi et al (2000) Collins and Lawrence (2004) and Williams et al (2000). However Hillary (1999) and Biondi et al (2000) have identified human, rather than financial resources, as the major barrier impeding EMS implementation. Significant management resources are required to implement an EMS, often detracting personnel from other areas in the business (Pimenova and Van der Vorst 2004), firms often are unable to identify the extra human resources or lack the technical expertise needed without affecting core business activities (Gerstenfield and Roberts 2000). Lack of human resources becomes ever-increasingly important as the size of the company decreases not only in the implementation but the maintenance of a formal EMS. Indeed O’Laoire and Welford (1995) point out that certified EMSs are not static and require continuous status review.
Lack of awareness and understanding is seen as further barrier, Smith et al (2000), O’Laoire and Wellford (1995) document that small firms may recognise the pressure for improved environmental performance, but often fall behind their larger counterparts in terms of environmental activity, emphasising the gap between environmental awareness and the potential benefits to be gained. Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000) identify that SMEs attention is predominately drawn to everyday business issues rather than producing a holistic strategy plan for the environment. Environmental issues are often dealt with in a reactive manner (Bianchi and Noci 1998). Resources are often stretched managing day-to-day activities and they generally place environmental issues relatively low down their list of priorities (O’Laoire and Welford 1995). Creating positive environmental attitudes amongst personnel and achieving the necessary cultural change are further internal barriers that can impede the implementation of EMSs (Hillary 2004). Inconsistent top management support, management instability, and lack of internal marketing, can significantly hinder the process (Hillary 2000). Tilley (1999) argues that top-level commitment is crucial to the success of an EMS, often investing in environmental performance improvements is not thought to be economically feasible unless competitors are also doing so. The implementation process is often an interrupted process due to a lack of resources, SMEs often start the process but lose interest further into implementation due to more fundamental business matters. This can eventually cause the process to lose momentum (Hillary 2004). SMEs often lack environmental management skills such as identifying all relevant aspects and assessing their significance. Furthermore ISO14001 and EMAS are written in a way that is difficult for SMEs to understand (Biondi et al 2000). External Barriers • • • Dissatisfaction with certification/ verification Institutional weaknesses and Support and guidance Economics
SMEs face dissatisfaction with the certification and verification process, there are often inconsistencies between different auditors and certifiers who may not have experience in auditing smaller firms, there is often concern about the high costs that SMEs incur when being certified to IS14001 and EMAS (Hillary 1999). In the panEU EMAS survey it was found that small firms were charged the most by outside consultants for their verification to the standard (Hillary 2004). Institutional weaknesses come in the form of lack of support both technical and financial, the fact that ISO14001 and EMAS are intended for a wide range of sites means it is often exhaustive and too complex for SMEs (Biondi et al 2000). SMEs face the problem often of not having time to locate good quality advice and information (Hillary 2004). The language used in the standards is perceived often as being nebulous, bureaucratic and hard to understand so technical support is seen as essential (Dalhammar 2000 and Merritt 1998). Furthermore the lack of sector specific guidance material tailored, to different sizes of firms and the lack of promotion of EMS are further problems encountered by many SMEs (Hillary 1999). Economic costs are seen as a major barrier to implementing a certified EMS such as ISO14001 or EMAS in SMEs, often top level management perceive little financial benefit form environmental investments and are unsure about the market benefits of certification (Hillary 1999, Revell and Rutherfoord 2003). It appears that the vast majority of SMEs continue to be unconvinced by the frequently trumpeted economic benefits of adopting a formal EMS and the cost expenditure is difficult to justify (Merritt 1998).
2.0 RESEARCH CONTEXT 2.1 Incremental Approaches to EMS ISO14001 and EMAS are often considered by SMEs as being too bureaucratic and represent a way of working that fits poorly with organisational culture and decisionmaking (Dalhammar 2000). These perceived constraints and many of the barriers identified in the prior section affecting EMS implementation in SMEs have lead to a plethora of incremental EMS approaches being developed specific to SMEs individual needs. Surveys conducted by Merrit (1998) and Williams et al (2000) show that Furthermore Williams et al’s (2000) SMEs are likely to be interested in specifically tailored EMSs incorporating simplicity, minimal costs and low maintenance. research has shown that to be successful an EMS tailored for small business must be simple, inexpensive, low maintenance, consist of minimal paper work and not take significant time away from production and service duties. Many of the incremental approaches are developed on a local or regional basis and are in response to the growing demand for more specific tailored alternatives to the traditional standards (EC 2004). The following incremental techniques have been identified but there are numerous other approaches that have been developed and are being used throughout Europe (EC 2004, Green Dragon 2006): • Eco-Profit Scheme – Austria; Covers the main elements of an initial environmental review (IER) and can be used as an initial phase in implementing a formal EMS • • • Eco- Lighthouse Scheme – Norway; Uses sector specific based analysis and aids SMEs in meeting their challenges Eco-Mapping – Belgium; Engages SMEs in EMS and helps them move towards ISO14001 and EMAS Green Dragon standard – Wales/ Northern Ireland; Stepped approach using 5 levels, developed by ARENA network and Groundwork Wales.
Incremental techniques such as those identified often enable SMEs to concentrate on one part of the EMS at a time, making the process much more manageable and in sequence with company resources (Dalhammar 2000). These approaches are also often based on the attribution of alternative environmentally related labels according to the specific requirements of the scheme in question (EC 2004). Nevertheless ISO (2005) recognises that superfluity of alternative techniques currently in use throughout Europe may fragment the market, thus undermining traditional standards that have been developed to a higher degree of environmental performance. Furthermore, a problem with some of the techniques is their link with formal EMSs such as ISO 14001 and EMAS is not always apparent. This may act as a barrier for those SMEs who intend to progress to recognition of a more formal standard (EC 2004). BS8555 however has been developed as approach to achieving ISO14001 accreditation or EMAS registration in distinct phases and is closely linked to the requirements and components of these standards.
2.2 Overview of BS8555 BS8555 or the Acorn approach, aims to have incorporated many of the specific needs of SMEs and also claims to challenge the traditional barriers constraining SMEs in implementing an EMS over traditional techniques (see figure 2.0). Full title: - BS8555 Environmental Management System – guide to the phased implementation of an environmental management system including the use of environmental performance evaluation (B.S.I 2003). BS8555 outlines five key stages in the implementation process, with a sixth additional phase, which prepares the participant for either EMAS registration or certification to the international standard ISO14001; the stages include (B.S.I 2003); 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 EMS 5. Checking, audit and management review 6. Environmental Management System acknowledgement Phase 1 Stages include: 1. Gaining and maintaining management commitment 2. Baseline assessment 3. Developing a draft environmental policy 4. Developing environmental indicators 5. Developing an initial environmental management implementation plan 6. Training, awareness and the initiation of culture change 7. Initiation of continual improvement
Phase 2 Stages include: 1. Identify relevant legal requirements 2. Identify “Other requirements” e.g. relevant codes of practice or contractual obligations 3. Checking compliance 4. Ongoing Compliance 5. Developing Compliance Indicators Phase 3 Stages include: 1. Evaluation of environmental aspects and impacts 2. Finalising the environmental policy 3. Developing objectives and targets 4. Establishing indicators for the environmental performance evaluation 5. Developing the environmental programme 6. Developing operational control procedures 7. Launching the environmental policy, objectives, targets and indicators Phase 4 Stages include: 1. Finalise management structure and responsibilities 2. Training, awareness and competence, plans and records 3. Establishing and maintaining formal communication 4. Documentation and record keeping 5. Reviewing and testing emergency preparedness and response 6. Developing indicators for the environmental management system Phase 5 Stages include: 1. Establishing audit programmes 2. Correcting non-conformance and taking preventative action 3. Management review 4. Improving environmental performance 5. Improving the environmental management system
Phase 6 Stages include: 1. Preparing for external assessment of the management system and ISO14001 certification 2. Review of baseline assessment (EMAS only) 3. Review of implementation (EMAS only) 4. Developing reportable information (EMAS only) 5. Auditing the EMS and environmental performance (EMAS only) 6. Environmental Statement, statement verification and EMAS registration
Figure 2.0 Process Flow Diagram illustrating the Six Phases of BS8555 (B.S.I) BS 8555: 2003 Phase 1
Commitment and establishing the baseline
Phase 1 Audit
Identifying and ensuring compliance with legal and other requirements
Phase 2 Audit
Developing objectives, targets and programmes
Phase 3 Audit
Implementation and operation of the environmental management system
Phase 4 Audit
Checking, audit and review
Phase 5 Audit Phase 6
Second party audit and supply chain acknowledgement Option 1 Option 3 Preparing for EMAS registration
Option 2 Preparing for External EMS assessment (ISO14001)
2.3 Portrayed Effectiveness of BS8555 BS8555 describes a generic EMS, but is based predominately on ISO14001 and EMAS requirements, making it easier for organisations to progress to achieve accreditation to ISO14001 or the EMAS regulation, something other incremental techniques often fail to make transparent (Sheldon 2003). The publication of BS8555 as a formal standard has given the approach a formal status and subsequently increased recognition an advantage of BS8555 over other incremental techniques (EC 2004). BS8555 can be used as a stand-alone standard with certification at each stage ensuring that a required level of performance has been achieved (Dalhammar 2000). Another clear benefit of BS8555 is the use of environmental performance indicators based on ISO 14031 focusing the EMS on environmental performance and not just on EMS implementation (Sheldon 2003). BS8555 phased implementation divides the process into six key stages, with achievement criteria being defined for each stage in the process. This enables SMEs to implement BS8555 at their own pace, the sixth and final stage allows possible accreditation to EMAS or ISO14001 (B.S.I 2003). Businesses using BS8555 are provided with supporting guidance and suggestions of where to obtain further information and training at each level promoting flexibility in the process (LRQA 2006). An independent audit at each stage of the BS8555 process, which can be externally verified, is available. This can provide suppliers with evidence of the organisations achievements and progress towards ISO 14001 or EMAS (Gascoigne 2002). Proponents of BS8555 (LRQA 2006, Acorn 2003, B.S.I 2003, WYG 2005) claim that many of the traditional barriers shown in figure 2.1, are overcome using BS8555 phased EMS implementation. It is claimed that lack of resources both human and financial can be overcome, due to the process being flexible in the pace of implementation. While it is also claimed that the standard aids in the cultural change necessary in implementing an EMS and the use of guidance notes and examples lessen the need for specific expertise.
Figure 2.1 Traditional Barriers Challenging SMEs and How They are Overcome Using BS8555 Barrier to EMS Implementation Lack of Resources (Human) How BS8555 Overcomes the Barrier? • • Lack of Resources (Financial) • • Lack of Expertise • • • Promoting Cultural Change and Top Level Commitment • • • • Interrupted Implementation • • Convenient phased system enables an EMS to be implemented in stages Provides flexibility and organisations can choose their own pace of implementation Enables an organisation to stop at a level which suites their specific individual needs reducing costs First stage focuses immediately on return of investment Use of templates and guidance notes addresses lack of trained environmental staff Achievement criteria are defined for each phase Suggestions given of where to obtain further information Internal profile of each stage promotes motivation and encouragement in staff Phased approach provide gradual change Provides for great employee involvement Stage ensures commitment from the very start of the process Formal recognition by external inspection body at each stage enable achievements to be recognised Evidence of environmental performance overtime
White Young Green Environmental (2005) found that main benefits of using BS8555 as an approach to EMS included; • • • • Improved liability control Improved environmental performance Financial benefits Improved public image
In study of organisations that had used BS8555 in developing an EMS, White Young Green Environmental (2005) found that 95% perceived the methodology to be the key strength of the process making it less challenging than traditional routes. BS8555 was also found to be consistent, transparent, flexible, and capable of being adapted and adopted by individual companies (WYG 2005). Despite the heralded merits of BS8555 much of the literature concerning the benefits and successes of using the approach, cannot be described as being any more than anecdotal. This research hopes to fill a void in literature and provide an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of BS8555. 2.4 Identified Limitations of BS8555 One of the key limitations of a phased approach such as BS8555 is that participants may not progress further to a higher phase or progress towards achieving accreditation to ISO14001 or the EMAS regulation. This could in someway gain SMEs greater recognition at lower phases than what is warranted (EC 2004). Dalhammar (2000) also raises the question of what value will be given externally to each phase in the process. The approach can also be criticised, as it is problematic to develop strategies for the SME sector as a whole because of its heterogeneous nature (Ammenberg and Hjelm 2003). However generic approaches offer the advantage of being applicable to a wide range of sectors. Another question mark hangs over the actual costs for implementation, and certification, and whether the cost would be lower using a more traditional method. Questions can also be asked about the number of phases in the process (Dalhammar 2000). BS8555 and other methods have not been proven in isolation from good funding, support, and marketing (ISO 2004).
2.5 Role Played by Support Mechanisms and Services Despite the development of BS8555 and other less formal incremental approaches, which are specifically designed with the SME in mind, their success in engaging SMEs in environmental management in isolation from support mechanisms and services is unlikely. Support mechanisms and services assist SMEs in overcoming many of the other barriers which they face, such as lack of financial resources and training and awareness (Hillary 1999). They play a fundamental role in informing, advising and assisting SMEs through the EMS implementation process (O’Laoire and Welford 1995). SMEs often do not possess the required expertise in-house to selfmange environmental initiatives such as implementing an EMS. Often they cannot afford the capital outlay of outside environmental consultancy support. Environmental support services attempt to fill this role by providing free or subsidised support (Holt et al 2000). Pimenova and Van der Vorst (2004) found that 70% of SMEs involved in their study stated that information and advice was the most important requirement when implementing an EMS. If the number of SMEs engaged in EMSs is to increase, further support mechanisms and services must play a more effective role in reducing the challenges and traditional barriers that SMEs often encounter (Hooper et al 1998). 2.6 Limitations of Past SME Environmental Support There are a wide range of environmental support services available to SMEs in the UK. Various sources of advice include, environmental regulatory guidance, energy reduction advice and waste reduction support to name a few. Indeed Hooper et al (1998) identified sixty support services in Northern Ireland alone offering environmental advice. However much of the support and advice offered to SMEs in the UK has been criticised for being ineffective (Hopper et al 1998, Holt et al 2000, Hunt 2000 and Sherlock et al 2000). The low numbers of SMEs implementing an EMS is further evidence (Hillary 1999). Indeed in a study conducted by Hooper et al (1998) of environmental business, support networks found only 24% of SMEs believed the business support networks to be adequate.
SMEs often face an abundance of information, through a plethora of handbooks, guides and workbooks. This often causes an information overload (Holt 2001 et al). The sheer number of different environmental support services often causes confusion as much of the information targeted is not specific to the SME audience, but at business in general (Simpson et al 2004 and EC 2004). Furthermore, support services and mechanisms are often criticised for lacking cohesion, contributing to confusion and resulting in counterproductive marketing within sector and geographical niches (Shearlock et al 2000 and Hunt 2000). experience, and resources. Subsides have been identified as crucial to assisting SMEs with the significant financial burden placed on them when implementing an EMS. However, subsidies that have been offered have been criticised for being too target driven (Hooper et al 1998). Subsidies have also been criticised for being too bureaucratic, with many SMEs not having the time or knowledge to apply for such sources of funding (Williamson and Lynch Wood 2005, Palmer and France 1998). Indeed, the small company environmental and energy management assistance scheme (SCEEEMAS), which provided funding of 40% - 50%, of the consultancy fees to implement an EMAS in the UK was withdrawn due to low take up predominately due to the bureaucracy involved in applying and gaining funding (Smith et al 2000). However it is argued (EC 2004) that subsidies are not the overriding factor in attracting interest in implementing an EMS in the first place. This must come from other drivers. The perceived inadequacy and existence of environmental support amongst SMEs is often exacerbated by the lack of time SMEs have to gain access to such help (Williamson and Lynch Wood 2005, Palmer and France 1998, Perez Sanchez et al 2003). Holt et al (2000) suggests that support services need to stop competing with each other and share their knowledge,
2.7 Best Practice Support Programme The criticism of some past environmental support services and mechanisms offered to UK SMEs by Hopper et al (1998), Holt et al (2000), Hunt (2000) and Sherlock et al (2000) has prompted the author to conduct a comprehensive review of literature identifying support techniques and factors that have been effective in achieving success with SMEs. This has enabled a proposed best-practice support framework to be developed (see figure 2.2), which could help to ensure that support is effective in disseminating information, advice, and funding amongst SMEs and reducing further, the many challenges, these organisations face, in engaging in environmental management. The following factors and techniques have been recognised as being significant in delivering effective environmental support to SMEs: Locally Based A Locally based focus that identifies “interested business” that may have responded to certain initiatives will allow better targeting, make use of economies of scale and have spin off effects. This will enable the requirements of businesses in the local area to be more accurately than blanket awareness arising (Gerstenfield and Roberts 2000, Hooper et al 1998, Holt et al 2000 and Shearlock et al 2000). Integrated Greater collaboration amongst the various support services and mechanisms that are available locally will reduce confusion and ensure that an increased number of businesses receive benefits as resources can be combined (Revell and Rutherfoord 2003, Shearlock et al 2000, Holt et al 2000). Furthermore Holt et al (2000) proposes that regional exchange networks could be established, which recognise environment as a business issue.
Tailored to SMEs Specifically For information dissemination to be effective, it needs to be specifically tailored and directly targeted at SMEs and not just business in general, it also is most effective when it is tailored to a specific sector and is relevant and understandable to them using the right language and industry terms (Gerstenfileld and Roberts 2000, Hooper et al 1998, Garrette 2000 and Holt et al 2001, Williamson and Lynch Wood 2005). Approaches should also be flexible and creative to adapt to various situations (Holt et al 2001). Hoevenagel and Wolters (2001) argue that although tailor made measures are more effective they are often less efficient, which is one of the drawbacks of this approach. Effective Awareness Raising For support services to be successful effective marketing and promotion is an important factor in their success. Companies often lack time to go looking for advice and support (Williamson and Lynch Wood 2005). Effective approaches to raise awareness include promotional campaigns using events such as seminars, direct mail, websites and press releases. Targeting enterprises and their supply chain directly appear to be the most effective techniques (Biondi et al 2000) Effective Financial Support Subsidies and funding cover part or all of the costs inherent in adopting an EMS, and are most effective when they are channelled to networks instead of individual enterprises. This has the advantage of causing a multiplier effect. Funding regimes need also to be less target driven with the quality of support being better than the quantity of business supported (EC 2004 and Miles et al 1999, Hooper et al 1998). However with subsidies and funding the question arises as to whether the effects generated will last beyond the termination of the funding (Clement and Hansen 2003).
Network Approach Network approaches are effective at facilitating the preparation and implementation of an EMS while reducing costs. Thus they can address many of the internal barriers SMEs face when implementing an EMS. They offer SMEs the chance to share experiences, costs and support, pooling knowledge and using showcase examples to attract further SME interest (Hunt 2000, EC 2004, Friedman and Miles 2001 and Dalhammar 2000) There are a number of network methods (EC 2004): • • • Horizontal Networks Vertical Multi-stakeholder networks
Horizontal networks bring together clusters of SMEs located in the same geographical area, not necessarily from the same sector. Their proximity to each other makes is easy to cooperate and exchange information. Vertical networks are often established in the supply chain, between a large mentor company and one or more of its suppliers. Multi-stakeholder networks involve collaboration between a range of stakeholders including local authorities, regulators, support organisations and mentor business. They are most effective, as a range of stakeholders are involved (EC 2004). Local authority/ Trade association involvement Local authority involvement is crucial in support networks as it perceived by SMEs to be beneficial to work with a trusted official stakeholder. Research studies carried out by Pimenova and Van der Vorst (2004), Perderson (2000) and Williamson and Lynch-Wood (2005) found a significant majority of SMEs rated local authorities as their preferred source of information and advice, regarding environmental matters. Trade associations are also argued to have some potential as providers of environmental advice and support, and could be key tools in reaching the small sector (Revell and Rutherfoord 2003 and Biondi et al 2000).
Figure 2.2 Proposed Best Practice Support Framework
Integrated with Other Business Support
Network Approach Horizontal Vertical • Multi-stakeholder • •
Tailored Specifically to SMEs
Involvement Trade Associations Local Authority
The framework depicted in Figure 2.2 illustrates a support approach that integrates the suggested best practice techniques outlined in the literature. Though in practice such an approach is likely to be constrained by factors such as lack of finance, time constraints on funding, and the fact that separate bodies have there own self interests. However, if the effectiveness of support programmes can be improved using the methods outlined in the proposed framework and EMS approaches such as BS8555 are utilised it could be suggested that the number of SMEs engaged in environmental management may increase. The research aims to explore whether these elements of the best practice framework were included in the STEM project.
2.8 Northern Ireland the Region in Context Northern Ireland is the one region in the UK according to Net Regs (2005), where SMEs are most likely to implement an EMS in the future. 5% of companies surveyed, stating they had plans to implement an EMS, while only 1% of SMEs in England and Wales stated having plans. Furthermore, Northern Ireland businesses with an EMS in place, increased from 17 in 2003, to 70 in 2005 (Net Regs 2005). Also the majority of businesses registered to BS8555 on the Acorn register (IEMA 2006) are from Northern Ireland. The increasing number of SMEs engaged in environmental management, and the fact that support services are well resourced, makes the region an ideal place to study support services and the effectiveness of BS8555. Northern Ireland is the smallest region in the UK with an area of 14,160 square kilometres and a population of approximately of 1.6 million people (EC 2004c) The region is a EU objective 1 area, and as a result is in receipt of a substantial amount of external funding aimed at regenerating the local economy. Local support services are well resourced due to this source of external funding making the region ideally placed to support small companies. The region has the highest SME base in the UK accounting for nearly 80% of all employment, while 97% of all firms located in the region employ less than 50 people (DTI 2005). 2.9 SME EMS Support in Northern Ireland Hooper et al (1998) identified sixty support services in Northern Ireland alone offering environmental advice to SMEs. However, despite the plethora of support, similar constraints on support services to those identified by other authors such as Holt et al (2000), Hunt (2000) and Shearlock et al (2000) were also identified by Hooper et al (1998). In Northern Ireland such as support lacking cohesion, untargeted at SMEs and often offer conflicting advice.
The environmental support services offered to small businesses in the region range from environmental advice through the Envirowise programme, waste minimisation advice through N.I Waste Works, financial support for investment in green technology through the Green Technology Initiative, to full environmental management system implementation, support such as the STEM project. A review of support offered to SMEs in Northern Ireland has identified the following support mechanisms in the region that offer specific environmental management system support and assistance; • • • Invest Northern Ireland - Building blocks to a better business programme Arena Network - Green Dragon pilot programme Southern Group Environmental Health Committee - STEM project
Invest Northern Ireland was formed in 2000 and is Northern Ireland’s main economic development organisation. It has a primary aim of increasing the wealth and prosperity of the region by delivering expertise and resources to accelerate creation and growth of business through sustainable means (Invest N.I 2006). The “Building Blocks to a Better Business Programme” pilot programme funded by Invest N.I launched in September 2003 and was delivered by White Young Green Environmental (WYG 2005). It was designed to aid SMEs through BS8555 phased implementation of an EMS towards IS014001 through a series of workshops and consultancy days (WYG 2005) and to inform the development of a full programme which could be rolled out across Northern Ireland (Walker 2006). Eleven companies took part in the initial pilot programme with the majority achieving IS014001 (Moore 2006). As a result of the success of the pilot project there may be the possible expansion of the programme across Northern Ireland in the future but due to funding issues it has been put on hold (Walker 2006). “Arena network Northern Ireland” is an environmental business support NGO that was established in 1995 to coordinate all business environment initiatives in Northern Ireland and provide support to local businesses (Arena Network 2006). Arena Network through a partnership with Coleraine Borough Council have piloted the
Green Dragon staged environmental management system approach to a number of businesses in the Coleraine council area in Northern Ireland (Arena Network 2006). The Green Dragon Environmental Standard was developed by Arena Network Wales and Groundwork with support from the Welsh Assembly Government (Green Dragon 2006). Under licence from Green Dragon Wales, Arena Network N.I have successfully implemented Green Dragon to Level 2 in 15 companies with 12 more to go through the programme in September to December 2006 (Coleraine Borough Council 2005). In addition to the companies implementing the standard in the Coleraine Borough, 12 – 14 companies in the Belfast area are likely to work towards level 2 this winter (Walters 2006). If further funding can be gained the, programme can be expanded to other regions in Northern Ireland (Walters 2006). The STEM project was established in 2004 and is steered by the East Border Region Environmental Working group and is delivered by the Southern Group Environmental Committee (SGHC) and nine participating councils (STEM 2006) The project is funded by European Union INTERREG IIIA funding for three years until October 2007 and aims to assist with free support 270 SMEs to BS8555 phase 3 and deliver ISO14001 accreditation to 9 participating councils in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after an initial pilot project (STEM 2006). The following modes of support are offered to each SME participating on the programme (STEM 2006): • • • • • Dedicated EMS officer to every organisation, offering assistance and support through the implementation process Series of Workshops for each phase Tool kit, providing businesses with a self help guide Intranet services, enabling networking Conference Day, providing information
The STEM project have recruited their own in-house support EMS specialists and have launched a full marketing campaign promoting the project including, business seminars and directly contacting businesses in each of the council areas (Best 2006a). Over 160 businesses across a wide range of sectors in the 9 participating council regions are currently working towards phase 3 of BS8555 with many business already having achieved certification to phase 3 of the standard by the external Acorn
inspection body NQA (Best 2006b). Once certified to phase 3 STEM project will offer some further support for companies that want to progress to either ISO14001 or EMAS accreditation or to a further stage in BS8555 (Best 2006a). 2.10 Rational for Research The author recognises that empirical research on SME environmental support services in Northern Ireland is lacking since Hooper et al (1998). In addition, why the majority of businesses registered to BS8555 Acorn Register (IEAM 2006) are from Northern Ireland warrants investigation. It is apparent that the STEM project has had an influential part to play in the number of SMEs in the region engaging in environmental management through use of BS8555 phased implementation approach. The project warrants investigation, since it is believed to be the largest of its kind in Europe (STEM 2006), with somewhat limited success in other regions of the UK. The project may be become an important case study of how a support service framework can be most effective at engaging SMEs in environmental management. It is also fundamental to determine if in any way the STEM support framework could be improved further. Also it is equally important is to investigate the portrayed merits of BS8555 and suggest possible improvements to the standard. Research on the effectiveness of BS8555 is particularly timely because the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has agreed to begin the process of developing a new EMS standard based on phased implementation (Baxter 2006). The primary objective of this research then is to investigate how support offered by the STEM project has been influential in the process of implementing BS8555 in Northern Irish SMEs. A further objective is to understand the process of implementing BS8555 and how the standard could be improved further. This will be achieved through investigating SMEs who have implemented BS8555 to phase 3 and received support and guidance from the STEM project. These objectives will be achieved by the following specific aims of the project: 1. Determine how the SME support services offered by STEM project have influenced uptake of EMS's in SMEs in Northern Ireland; 2. Identify measures, if any, that could improve support services in the future;
3. Determine how BS8555 phased implementation process could be improved further, particularly in terms of costs, workload, drivers and barriers. 3.0 RESEARCH APPROACH This chapter explains the research approach used in identifying, contacting, and interviewing organisations involved in the research and also justifies the use of structured interviewing as a research method. 3.1 Identifying Organisations that have used BS8555 Details of organisations involved with the STEM project were obtained from the register of businesses on the STEM project website. However a large quantity of organisations involved in the project were at the initial stages of EMS development using the BS8555 phased approach. It was thought that the experiences and knowledge from these companies would be too limited to gain insight into the effectiveness of BS8555 and the support offered. Therefore it was decided that organisations listed on the Acorn register (IEMA 2006) that had received support and guidance from the STEM project would be in a better position to offer insight as these organisations were accredited by NQA to a minimum of Phase 3. However the limitation in this approach is that organisations are only listed on the IEMA Acorn register if they pay an administration fee (Best 2006) and some companies involved with the STEM project that have received accreditation to phase 3 may choose not to pay the additional fee to be placed on the register. Moreover the implication in using this approach was a reduced sample size, as all organisations that had been accredited to phase 3 may not have been listed on the register. In order to analyse the support offered to SMEs in Northern Ireland it was also important to identify only companies located in the region as the STEM project also offers support to SMEs in the Republic of Ireland. Therefore the criteria used for selecting the companies to be involved in the research included: 1. SMEs located in Northern Ireland 2. Support and guidance received from the STEM project to implement BS8555 35
3. Listed on the IEMA Acorn register and accredited to phase 3.
Since organisations are added to the IEMA register continually once they have achieved accreditation, the 19th of May 2006 was used as a cut off date for identifying suitable organisations to contact. As it was not feasible to contact organisations listed on the register after this date in the timeframe available for this research project. 3.2 Approach Used in Contacting Organisations Figure 3.0 shown below, illustrates the approach used in identifying and contacting the organisations involved in the research. An initial email (see Appendix 1) detailing the research was sent to all the organisations that matched the predetermined criteria. This email articulated the aims of the research and the advantages in taking part. Only a small number of organisations agreed to participate in the research after an initial email, so follow-up telephone calls were used to contact organisations that had not responded. Furthermore, a number of organisations required a further telephone call in order to arrange a convenient time for the interview to be conducted.
Figure 3.0 Organisation Contact Approach
Identify Organisation on STEM Register of Businesses and IEMA Acorn Register
Send Email Detailing the Research
Follow up phone call
Phone call to arrange interview time
3.3 Support Services and EMS Consultant Interview Approach In addition to interviewing organisations that had implemented BS8555 with support from the STEM project, it was necessary in order to meet the research objectives to conduct a number of telephone interviews with: 1) SME EMS support service personnel in the region 2) Professional EMS consultants involved with SME support A semi-structured qualitative approach was used to interviewing as it enabled a greater idea of the interviewee’s opinions (Bryman 2004) to be obtained. All interviews were conducted over the telephone following an email enquiry. SME support service personnel were asked for more information on the various support mechanisms on offer to SMEs, while EMS consultants were asked for their opinions of the effectiveness of support offered. 37
3.4 Description of the Sample On the 19th of May 2006 there were a total of 24 organisations listed on the IEMA register (IEMA 2006) that where located in Northern Ireland and had reached phase 3 of BS8555. Twenty-three of these organisations details could be obtained from the register of businesses on the STEM project website. Therefore using the From the 23 This denotes a predetermined criteria the total sample size was 23 organisations. Figure 3.1 12 organisations completed the structured interview.
organisations contacted using the identification and contact approach illustrated in response rate of 52%, which was deemed adequate to complete the research as other studies involving SMEs often achieve much lower success rates (see Pimenova and Von der Vorst (2004) for example). In some incidences it proved difficult to contact the relevant personnel in each organisation as they often occupied a senior management position, subsequently their time was limited away from decisive business issues, which was seen as a factor that limited the response rate. In addition, 3 semi structured interviews were conducted with support facilitator’s in Northern Ireland, 2 interviews were conducted with professional environmental consultants with experience with working with SMEs and a semi structured interview was also conducted with an external BS8555 NQA auditor. Figure 3.1 Breakdown of Responding Organisations Size
Number of Employees
Micro enterprises (1 to 9)
Small enterprises (10 to 49)
Medium enterprises (50 to 259)
Figure 4.0 illustrates the size of responding organisations according to EU SME definition (Article 2 of recommendation 2003/361/EC). It shows that 5 of the 12 organisations are classified as small enterprises, 4 as medium enterprises and 3 as micro enterprises. The range in company size is not representative of the number of businesses employing less than 50 people in Northern Ireland estimated at 97% by the DTI (2005). However the range in organisation size does show that the STEM project has targeted their support to SMEs of all sizes including micro organisations. 3.5 Justification of the Research Technique Previous survey research involving SMEs has shown that response rates are often low. Indeed Pimenova and Van der Vorst (2004) only achieved a 10% response rate in a survey of environmental support offered to SMEs in London. Since there are a limited number of SMEs on the Acorn register (IEMA 2006) that are from Northern Ireland and have received support from the STEM project it was important to achieve as high a response rate as possible. Bryman (2004) documents that interviews in survey research are more likely to achieve a higher response rate than self-completion questionnaires. So in order to achieve as high a response rate as possible a structured interview approach was decided as the most effective method. Structured interviews were used, in order that the results could be analysed quantitatively as the respondents answered the same series of predetermined questions minimising the difference between the various interviews conducted (Denzin and Lincon 2003). Further advantages of using interviews over other research methods include (Bryman 2004): • In interviews the interviewer can assist the respondent if they are having difficulty answering the question. Many of SMEs involved in the research had not implemented environmental initiatives before involvement with the STEM project and some had limited knowledge of what had been put in place, so it was important to have the ability to prompt respondents, and explain questions in greater detail when respondents were unsure or confused.
The interviewer has the ability to probe respondents to elaborate on answers and obtain additional information. The ability to probe respondents on open ended questions was important such as “in your opinion do you think there is any other way the support offered by the STEM project could be improved further?” as answers could be elaborated more when respondents were slow to respond.
Interviews enable the right person to be targeted directly. Hence it has an advantage over self-completion questionnaires, which may be more difficult to ensure the desired person has answered the questionnaire. It was important that only the environmental manager or a member of staff that was directly involved with implementing BS8555 was questioned in each organisation, as other members of staff may not have the necessary level of knowledge to answer questions accurately. However this advantage does not apply when the interview is administrated by telephone, as it is difficult to ensure that right person is indeed answering the questions.
However a number of disadvantages can be identified in using a structured interview research method (Bryman 2004): • Interviewing is generally more expensive when the sample is geographically dispersed due to time and cost of travel for the interviewer. This disadvantage was minimised in this case, as the majority of organisations who had received support and guidance from the STEM project were located in a small geographic region. Furthermore a number of interviews were carried out over the telephone, which led to further reduced costs. • Interviews can take longer for the researcher to obtain the required information than self-completion questionnaires as the latter can be sent out through the post and distributed in very large quantities and they are also not as convenient for respondents. The length of time taken to conduct interviews was reduced by ensuring interviews lasted no more than half an hour. The fact that the interview was structured also helped to reduce the time taken to conduct each interview.
The presence of the interviewer can influence the response of respondents who are likely to exhibit bias when an interviewer is present. So it was important to ensure that respondents had enough time to consider their answers.
The original intention was to conduct structured interviews on a face-to-face basis, as this would ensure that the correct person was targeted in each organisation. However initial feedback from the organisations contacted showed some organisations preferred to be interviewed over the telephone, while others preferred the interview face to face on their premises. • In-person interviewing presents the following advantages over telephone interviewing (Shuy 2003): More accurate response owing to contextual naturalness as people have more freedom to introduce topics, change the subject, interrupt and otherwise speak in the way they do in most every day conversations. • • Better response rates have been found using in-person interviewing over telephone interviewing. Results are more accurate, owing to lower interview workload, the workload of the telephone interviewers is higher than that of in-person interviews leading to less efficiency and less accurate results However, telephone interviewing presents the following advantages over in-person interviewing (Shuy 2003): • • • Telephone interviewing offers greater cost efficiency and it is faster in obtaining a completed interview, as the speed of questioning is often quicker. Greater standardization of questions using telephone interviewing provides researchers with control over quality Interview results are not affected by the characteristics of the interviewer and indeed his or her mere presence. To ensure the response rate of the research was as high as possible both in-person and telephone interviews were conducted allowing organisations the option between both techniques.
The limitation of using both techniques was that not all respondents were interviewed using the same method, which could subsequently lead to variations in the results. However Shuy (2003) argues that the difference is unlikely to be evident in the two approaches if a structured schedule is used to conduct the interviews in both cases. 3.6 Interview Schedule Design and Content In order to achieve the aims and objectives of the research, a comprehensive literature review was conducted which identified various themes that were used in designing the structured interview schedule. This enabled current literature to be tested on best practice SME EMS support and the use of BS8555 for phased EMS implementation. Figure 3.1 outlines the literature used and the themes identified in designing each of the structured interview questions.
Once the literature themes had been identified, each of the questions in the interview schedule was designed to encompass these themes. question and specific wording was then determined. • The question type for each The structured interview
schedule consisted of 17 open and 3 closed ended questions (see Appendix 2). Questions 1 – 16 and 19 were closed questions relating to EMS drivers and benefits, support service awareness and nature, support delivery and effectiveness of BS8555 • Questions 17, 18 and 19 were open-ended questions inviting respondents to comment about the effectiveness of support and general experiences of using BS8555 and the support offered by the STEM project. The majority of the questions in the interview schedule were of closed nature type. These questions enabled the key research questions to be answered. Bryman (2004) identifies the advantages of using closed questions as being: • • • Easily processed, since the appropriate code can be mechanically derived from the selected answer. Enhance the comparability of answers, as the assignment of codes to answers after may be unreliable. Clarify the meaning of a question. The availability of answers may help to clarify the meaning of some questions.
However, questions 17, 18 and 20 were designed as open-ended questions, allowing respondents to answer in their own terms. This enabled a variation in responses about how the support service offered by the STEM project could be improved further and additional experiences of implementing an EMS in their business to be expressed. Some questions required a simple Yes/No response while other questions were designed using a Likert scale. Figure 3.2 Interview Schedule Literature Themes
Literature References Hillary (1999), Dalhammar (2000), WYG (2005), Evangelions and Halkos (2002), O’Laoire and Welford (1995), Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000) Hillary (1999), Biondi et al (2000), Dalhammer (2000), WYG (2005) EC (2004), WYG (2004), Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Hooper et al (1998), Garrette (2000), Holt et al (2000), Shearlock (2000) EC (2004), Biondi et al (2000), Pimenova and Van der Vorst (2004), Perderson (2000) and Williamson and Lynch Wood (2005) Hooper et al (1998) Holt et al (2001), EC (2004), Ammenberg and Hjelm (2003), Revell and Rutherfoord (2003), Hunt (2000) Friedman and Miles (2001) EC (2004), ISO (2004) Interview Question Q1, Q3, Q4 Research Question Why organisations decided to engage in environmental management? What benefits have been experienced? How important is support to SMEs? Effectiveness of support methods? Effective awareness raising techniques? Factors encouraging recruitment? Effective elements of support and how support could be improved? How much recognition is gained from using BS8555 and has recognition changed? How effective is phased implementation? How could the approach be improved?
Literature Theme Drivers for EMS implementation in SMEs
Benefit of adopting an EMS Need for and nature of EMS support
Q2 Q5, Q6, Q18, Q19
Support awareness and recruitment
Q14, Q15, Q16, Q17, Q20
Recognition of BS8555
Effectiveness of BS8555
B.S.I (2003), Acorn (2003), LRQA (2006) WYG (2005), EC (2004), Dalhammar (2000), ISO (2004), Ammenberg and Hjelm (2003)
Q9, Q10, Q11
Initial feedback from the organisations contacted suggested that an appropriate response rate would only be achieved if the number of questions asked were kept to a minimum. The structured interview schedule was piloted with a professional EMS consultant and member of staff within the Environmental Science School at the university. The pilot study revealed that some of questions required minor changes in wording and one of the questions was changed from a ranking system to a Likert scale to avoid confusion. The pilot interview also provided the interviewer with experience of asking the questions ensuring that the interview flowed correctly.
4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 4.1 Drivers to implementing an EMS through the STEM project Figure 4.0
14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0
e s e n rt ol ees age ers ums nc tio nd po ntr ntg isla sup ema dva Influe n Co ploy ny im stom remi a m pa leg free or d o cu e p r i e e ith of tiv olde vent rom m new anc e eti co h f r nc y e t ew nc alblit nflue omp take n pr nce rove ttrac insu lia i o i e S C d p A in ther olluti Influ mp Ava mer an Im Co Ga O P lity sto iab Cu el c EMS Driver du Re
Importance of EMS Drivers
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
The results illustrated in figure 4.0, show that the availability of free support was the most important influencing driver in organisations becoming involved with the STEM project and implementing an EMS. 92% of respondents stated that the availability of free support was very important or important, with 67% of respondents stating that availability of free support was a very important influence. An EC (2004) commissioned report argues that availability of free support is not an overriding influence in EMS adoption and this must come from other sources. However these findings suggest otherwise. They suggest that if EMS support is available it is likely to be a critical element in influencing SMEs decision to implement an EMS. Although other external drivers are recognised, they may be a sufficient enough driver to act. This finding is further substantiated by WYG (2005) who also found the availability 45
of free support to be the most important influencing factor in their study of organisations involved with the “Building Blocks” EMS support programme. The results show that compliance with legislation was the second most important influencing driver with 33% of respondents stating that it was very important and 42% stating it was important. Moreover this finding is mirrored in the literature; O’Laoire and Welford (1995), Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Lynch-wood and Williamson (2005) and Hillary (2004) all argue that compliance with legislation is a critical driver in EMS adoption. Customer influence in the form of supply chain pressure is documented as a key driver for EMS implementation in SMEs Gascogine (2002), Hillary (2004) Bansal and Bogner (2002) Dalhammar (2000), Evangelinos and Halkos (2002), Presuss (2005) and Handfield et al (2005)). Interestingly, the results in this study show that only 1 (8%) out of the 12 responding organisations stated customer influence or demands to be a very important factor with 2 (17%) stating it was important. This authenticates the argument that although customer influence in form of supply chain pressure exists, there is little evidence to suggest it is becoming widespread (Simpson et al 2004 and Merritt 1998). However, a possible explanation for the low importance attached to supply chain pressure, is that it is only likely to be evident in SMEs who operate in a business to business (B-to-B) context. Furthermore Hillary (2004) argues that customers, particularly of micro enterprises are unlikely to be interested in environmental performance, possibly due to the fact that micro enterprises environmental impacts are often perceived to be negligible.
4.2 Benefits Gained from Implementing an EMS Figure 4.1
Benefits of EMS Implmentation
No. of Organisations
12 10 8 6 4 2 0
y y e n le ol ce nc ers iance vings alit tio ag ntr an ora l ice qu ac im om a co eff d m and orm cust ts mp lic tisf ty t n rf li s b sa Co en y pe w pu Co na iab er al nc ne em tio dl tal ed leg of ve tom ag icie en iva ov m ot us pr an ed eff on pro C ti m on Im ov Im e m ional vir rac Impr nd ye t en la Att plo era na ed m v op tio de pro sa ed i v ve Im an pro pro org Im Im ed v pro Benefit Im
The responding organisations were asked the question “Which of the following benefits have you gained from implementing an EMS through the STEM project?” It was important to determine which benefits portrayed by proponents of BS8555 had actually been realised by responding organisations as much of the evidence of benefits can be deemed as being somewhat anecdotal. The results show that improved legal compliance was a benefit experienced in all 12 (100%) responding organisations. This is recognised as a key benefit in SMEs as the increasing quantity of environmental regulations and legislation is making it more difficult to manage compliance (Bianchi and Noci 1998). The findings have also shown regulations and legislation to be an important driver for implementing an EMS. 92% (11 organisations) recognised improved public image and improved environmental performance as further benefits of using BS8555. This confirms the claims by proponents of the standard that improved public image and improved environmental performance are key benefits (WYG 2005). 47
According to the findings, cost savings have been realised in 58% of responding organisations confirming in part the claim made by proponents that there are clear financial savings that can be gained from using BS8555 (WYG 2005). However 42% of organisations stated they had experienced no cost savings since implementing the standard. A possible explanation for this is that financial savings may be more evident in some organisations that others, secondly it may take a number of years for the full extent of the savings to be realised. 4.3 Motivations for Becoming Involved with the STEM Project The possibility of responding organisations being engaged in some form of environmental management or initiative before becoming involved in the STEM project was investigated. It was considered important to determine whether there was interest in environmental initiatives before becoming involved or whether the overriding factor was the fact that the support was available and free. Figure 4.2 illustrates that 50% of responding organisations had at some stage conducted an energy audit, while 42% of responding organisations had implemented an environmental policy and 33% of organisations had implemented some form of producer responsibility. These findings indicate that at least half of the responding organisations were already concerned with environmental issues before becoming involved with the STEM project, suggesting that they may have had other external pressures to participate in the STEM project apart from the fact that the support was free. A possible explanation for some of the organisations already being involved in environmental initiatives is that they may have considered their impacts more significant. Indeed, Biondi et al (2000) suggests that the nature of the organisations operations is likely to influence its stance with regards to environmental matters. However it is unclear whether the other initiatives responding organisations have been engaged in before the STEM project, have indeed been free, or if the responding organisations have paid for the initiative.
Environmental Inititaives engaged in before involvment with the STEM Project
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En vi ro nm En en vi ta ro lp nm ol en ic En y tta vi la ro nm ud iti en En ng ta vi ls ro nm tra te en gy Li ta fe lr cy ep cle or tin as Pr g se od ss uc m er en En re t vi sp ro on nm si en bi lit ta y lm on ito rin En g vi ro nm IP en C ta ll ab el lin En g er gy au di t O th er
It was investigated whether responding organisations had considered implementing an EMS before becoming involved with the STEM project and whether they would be prepared to pay for outside support in its development. participation in the scheme. Figure4.3
Condiseration of Implementing an EMS before Invovlment with the STEM Project
Figure 4.3 illustrates that
50% of responding organisations had considered implementing an EMS before
Yes No Don't Know
Number of Responding Organisations Prepareard to Pay for Outside Support
Yes No Don't Know
Nevertheless the findings show (illustrated in figure 4.4) that 42% of responding organisations stated they would be prepared to pay for outside support. The findings suggest that some organisations had considered implementing an EMS before becoming involved with the STEM project, confirming the argument by Smith et al (2000), Merritt (1998) and O’Laoire and Wellford (1995) that small firms recognise the pressure for improved environmental performance. However the majority (58%) of organisations stated that they would not be prepared to pay for outside support, which is argued to be necessary since SMEs often lack the internal skills required for EMS implementation on their own (Hillary 1999, Biondi et al 2000 Collins and Lawrence 2004, and Williams et al 2000).
Though surprisingly 42% of responding organisations did state they would be prepared to pay for support. A possible explanation is that these organisations may have had increased external pressure due to the nature of their business, an argument posited by Biondi et al (2000). However, another possible explanation is that responding organisations that have realised some of the benefits of implementing an EMS. May be more likely to suggest that they would have been prepared to pay for outside support from an environmental consultancy in the first place. 4.4 Future EMS Plans Figure 4.5
Future Environmental Management System Plans
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
S ns 01 55 55 55 tep 40 MA 85 85 85 ts pla re O1 BS BS BS oE ren t u r IS of of of fut cu on to of at e6 e5 e4 ati on tag tag tag istr ure ati MS i ts os os os reg ed nE nt nt nt No ek tai ccr tio tio tio Se ain ka ac ac ca e M ifi ifi ifi Se ert ert ert kc kc kc ee ee ee EMS plans S S S r he Ot
Clement and Hansen (2003) raise the question of whether the effects generated from environmental management system support will last beyond the termination of the funding. The STEM project provides free support and guidance up to phase 3 of BS8555 with further more limited support to achieving ISO14001. So it was considered important to investigate whether organisations that had reached phase 3 of BS8555 were likely to progress to a further phase, plan to achieve full ISO14001 accreditation or seek registration to EMAS. It was also the intention of the research to establish how flexible the implementation of BS8555 was.
Figure 4.5 illustrates the results of the research showing that 50% of responding organisations aim to continue the process of implementing an EMS and achieve accreditation to ISO14001 in the future. This finding suggests that once organisations are engaged in implementing BS8555 and overcome the initial barriers with the help of a support service some of these organisations will want to continue the process with an aim of achieving accreditation to ISO14001. WYG (2005) in a study of the “building blocks programme” also found that many of the firms that had achieved phase 3 of BS8555 have continued to seek full ISO14001 accreditation further corroborating the findings. This finding suggests that if support services can assist SMEs in starting the EMS implementation process, some organisations will have the inclination to continue the process further on their own. Figure 4.5 also illustrates that 33% of responding organisations aim to maintain BS8555 at Phase 3. This finding emphases the flexibility in using BS8555 as it can be used as a stand alone standard, recognition can be achieved at each stage and organisations can progress at their own pace or when their individual needs have been achieved (B.S.I 2003). However it must be expressed that while the flexibility of BS8555 is a good aspect of the standard, there could be concern, as phase 3 does not represent a fully operational EMS. 4.5 The Level of Recognition Gained from Implementing BS8555 Figure 4.6
Recognition of EMS (BS8555)
14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Customers Suppliers Other businesses Stakeholders Employees Insurers Banks Don't Know No Yes
BS8555 is a relatively new standard that was only formally published in 2003 (B.S.I 2003). Understandably, it is not as well recognised amongst stakeholders and businesses as ISO14001 or EMAS. The intention was to investigate the current level of recognition of BS8555 amongst various stakeholders involved with the responding organisations in order to determine whether the current promotion of the standard has been effective. The findings illustrated in figure 4.6 show that 83% of the employees of the responding organisations have recognised that their organisation has implemented BS8555 as a formal EMS. This finding could confirm the claim by proponents of the standard that BS8555’s phased approach to EMS implementation provides for greater employee involvement through gradual change promoting awareness, motivation and encouragement in staff (Acorn 2003). The findings illustrated in figure 4.6 also show surprisingly that 67% of responding organisations, customers, and other businesses have recognised BS8555 as an EMS. A possible explanation for such a high level of recognition is that when responding organisations were probed further about the level of awareness little distinction was made between their EMS and the fact they had used BS8555 as an approach. One responding manager stated when probed: “Customers and other businesses know we have an EMS but they have never heard of the BS8555 standard…….. We have received a lot more recognition for our ISO9000 quality standard”. This comment suggests that although other businesses and customers recognise that an EMS has been implemented, they often do not recognise BS8555 specifically as a formal standardised approach. The findings illustrated in 4.6 also show that BS8555 is recognised by 33% of suppliers and 8% of insurers or banks. These findings suggest the need for increased promotion of standard amongst SME stakeholders so the level of recognition can be improved, something that an international recognised standard would likely improve.
Change in Level of Recognition
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Significant increase Increase No difference Don't know Level of Recognition
One of the advantages heralded by proponents of BS8555 is that it can be used as a ‘standalone’ standard with externally verified certification at each stage, enabling organisations to stop at a level which suits their specific needs (B.S.I 2003). However Dalhammer (2000) raises the question of whether the value attached in terms of recognition for each stage will change? It was deemed important then to investigate the level of change in recognition from phase 1 to certification at phase 3. The findings illustrated in figure 4.7 show that 25% of responding organisations stated that they have experienced a significant increase in the level of recognition received from outside stakeholders since starting implementation at phase 1, while 50% state there has been some increase. These findings could suggest that the level of recognition changes when organisations progress from stage to stage in BS8555. However, it must be taken into account that all organisations involved with the STEM project only got formally verified to phase 3 of BS8555 (NQA 2006) and not when they completed phase 1 and 2. The level of recognition is likely to increase one might suggest when phase 3 has been verified externally.
ISO (2004) argue that organisations using BS8555 may not progress to achieving higher phases and ultimately achieving IS014001 certification if level of outside recognition is unlikely to change. This could in someway gain SMEs greater recognition at lower phases than is warranted. To investigate this argument, however further research would be required into the recognition gained from stakeholders at different stages of BS8555. 4.6 The Effectiveness of BS8555 Figure 4.8
The Effectivness of BS8555 Components
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rt s e n s e e le es tio ag ac sta of i t ag ote nta ce n form proc al pr stop/ ch s ch st e r a e n a m n e th nter ty to t e at e ple uida tal p I li im aa g y in n Ab riteri nition of and me renc ce on spa tc og pa ates vir en r ec the mpl of en Tran em m al iv in f te r ty he ce Fo Ac ibli se o iden Component v lex U F E
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
Those proponents who were involved in developing BS8555 portray much of the current information concerning the effectiveness of each component. So one of the aims of the research was to objectively investigate the validity of these claims by asking responding organisations how much importance in terms of effectiveness they would give to each component. The findings are illustrated in figure 4.8 and show that 83% of responding organisations stated that the standards use of templates and guidance notes was a very important component, confirming the claim by proponents of the standard.
Acorn (2003) suggests that the use of templates and guidance notes can lessen the need for specific environmental expertise. This can be seen as an important component of BS8555 as traditional standards such as ISO14001 or EMAS are often seen as difficult to understand and as being too bureaucratic (Dalhammar 2000). Furthermore the findings show that 67% of responding organisations state formal recognition at each stage to be a very important component, this allows achievements to be recognised formally when specific needs of the organisation have been met (Acorn 2003). In addition figure 4.8 illustrates that 50% of responding organisations found the ability to start–stop the process of BS8555 implementation and the flexibility in pace of implementation as another very important component of the standard. These findings suggest that many of components of BS8555, which are claimed as being effective, are considered as very important by organisations that have used the standard. Nonetheless some components have been considered more important than others and these include those highlighted such as the use of templates and guidance notes, formal recognition at each stage, the ability to start stop the process and the flexibility in the pace of EMS implementation. This suggests BS8555 has incorporated many of the specific needs of SMEs, and has challenged many of the traditional barriers to EMS implementation. Figure 4.9
Possible Imporvements to BS8555
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les ork ard nd rw mp xa pe sta s gu e s pa Le the ific led ss ec of tai Le sp de on r ti re cto mo Mo Se pro d se rea Improvement Inc es as ph e nc ida
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
It was also the intention of the research to investigate ways that the effectiveness of BS8555 could be improved further. Responding organisations were asked how important would they rate each of the possible improvements to the standard suggested by commentators and the relevant literature. Glenns (2006) suggests that 6 phases of BS8555 is possibly too many and the process would be more effective if the number of phases was reduced. However only 17% of responding organisations (illustrated in figure 4.9) stated that this was an important factor with the majority stating that this was unimportant or they were undecided. A possible explanation for this is that all responding organisations achieved accreditation straight to phase 3, but if stage 1 and 2 were also verified respondents may have stated otherwise especially if they had paid for certification to each phase. But unless proven otherwise the number of stages of BS8555 is considered to be appropriate. Ammenberg and Hejelm (2003) argue that it is problematic to develop strategies for the SME sector as a whole, so respondents were asked how important it would be to change BS8555 to a more sector specific approach. Again only 42% of organisations stated this would be very important or important. The findings are substantiated by Best (2006) who argues that the wide range of different sectors implementing BS8555 would make it problematic to develop a sector specific approach. Respondents were also asked how important a factor was it to provide more detailed examples or to reduce the amount of paperwork required. The findings show that in the majority of cases these possible improvements were seen as negligible. It further emphasises claims made by proponents of BS8555 that the approach offers appropriate guidance and is concise. Nevertheless the findings show (illustrated in figure 4.9) that 92% of responding organisations believe that it would be very important or important to promote the standard more. Birchall (2005) also found the lack of promotion of the standard to be a major weakness. Indeed this is likely to affect the level of recognition organisations receive when implementing BS8555 and therefore likely to limit its uptake.
Responding organisations were asked to estimate approximately how many working hours it had taken them in total to achieve certification to phase 3 of BS8555. Each organisation differs in size and characteristics, which is likely to affect the amount of time implementation takes, but estimates ranged between 80 and 200 working hours. This indicates that achieving certification even to phase 3 of BS8555 requires dedication and a substantial amount of time away from every-day-business affairs. 4.7 The Effectiveness of the STEM Project Figure 4.10
STEM Project Marketing Method
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Radio Business seminar Press advertisement Word of mouth Directly contacted Local authority Other
Williamson and Lynch Wood (2005) argue that for support services to be successful effective marketing and promotion is important as companies especially SMEs lack the time to go and look for support and advice. The marketing method used to engage SMEs in the STEM project has been successful at recruiting over 160 SMEs to work towards BS8555 thus far (Best 2006a). Upon further investigation it was found that the project launched a full marketing campaign directed by marketing professionals and this was revealed to be an important aspect in the success of the project so far (Best 2006a). The intention of the research was to investigate how responding organisations become aware of the project. Figure 4.10 illustrates that 42% of responding organisations became aware of the project through their local authority, while 25% of responding organisations became aware through a press advertisement or were directly contacted.
Biondi et al (2000) documents that targeting enterprises directly can be the most effective method at raising awareness amongst SMEs. But it can be suggested on the basis of these findings, that a variety of different methods is most effective at raising awareness in a wide range of businesses. Creating awareness through a local authority can be seen as being successful method in this case. Figure 4.11
Importance of Support Features Encouraging Participation
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b ally oc ed ed as al l sm e sin e ss s in lvm vo en t rb u n sie sse s n up ds d po rt d ec e ff tive ly
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
la ca ty
ty ori u th
r two ne
i th kw
e o th
Responding organisations were asked to indicate how important each of the support features was at encouraging them to participate in the STEM project. The findings illustrated in figure 4.11 show 92% of responding organisations stated that the fact that the support was free was very important. In fact the findings show this to be the single most important factor. This further reiterates the importance of advice and support being free in influencing organisations to participate in the STEM project. It could be suggested that without the support being free many of the organisations may have not become involved. The findings (illustrated in figure 4.11) show that the fact the support was tailored to small businesses and not to business in general was also a decisive factor in many of the organisations being involved, 67% of responding organisations rated this to be a very important feature of the support.
Indeed it is argued by Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Hooper et al (1998), Garrette (2000) and Holt et al (2001), and Williamson and Lynch Wood (2005) that for support to be effective it needs to be directly target and specifically tailored to SMEs using language that can be easily understood. The findings also show that 58% of responding organisations stated the fact that support was locally based to be very important while 42% stated it to be an important feature encouraging participation. Gerstenfield and Roberts (2000), Hooper et al (1998), Holt et al 2000 and Shearlock (2000) all argue that locally focused support allows better targeting and the requirements of businesses in the local area to be more accurately met than support targeting a number of regions. The findings suggest that it is also an important factor at encouraging organisations to participate in support as individual requirements of business can be more easily met. The findings (illustrated in figure 4.11) further emphasise the importance of effective marketing as an important factor in encouraging involvement as 75% stated it was either very important or important at encouraging them to participate in the support.
Importance of Support Elements
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n s g nt ise tio de ng sin ca ert me i tu mi rai xp rtfi ge su att ss le y ce na on ne an n ta ed ma ec mp nd are me ior ti m o u n s aw on rt f gc se vir l es nd Pa of gi n En ss ga nt an ce Ch inin me pro lve Tra vo th e in g kin i ng Ma ai n Support Element G
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
It was the intention of the research to investigate which support elements offered by the STEM project were rated as the most important. In order to determine the areas that SMEs find most difficult and require outside assistance and support during EMS implementation. The findings illustrated in figure 4.12 show that 75% of responding organisations found it very important that the support reduced the workload in implementation and made the process less time consuming. A possible explanation for the importance attached to reduced workload in implementing an EMS such as BS8555 is that SMEs are often stretched managing day-to-day activities and have little time to spare for environmental initiatives such as implementing an EMS (Bianchi And Noci 1998). The findings (illustrated in figure 4.12) also show the importance that responding organisations attach to the STEM projects environmental expertise with 67% of responding organisations rating the STEM projects environmental expertise as very important. This suggests that many of the responding organisations do not possess the necessary in-house expertise to implement an EMS, and would find it difficult to afford the capital outlay to pay for support from an environmental consultancy group a finding further authenticated by Bianchi and Noci (1998).
One organisation involved in the study commented; “I mean without the support of the people at STEM project [company name] would have found it very difficult to get this far……….. environmental legislation was one of the hardest aspects and they [STEM project] were always there when we needed them”. Furthermore the findings (illustrated in figure 4.12) show that training and awareness raising was considered a very important element by 42% of organisations, while 50% of responding organisations considered it to be an important element of the support and funded certification was also considered an important element of the support offered by the STEM project. The findings and comments from responding organisations suggest that despite claims that BS8555 makes particular reference to SMEs (B.S.I 2005) guidance and assistance from a support service are considered fundamental aspect of successful implementation, which raises the question whether can BS8555 be proven in isolation from support? Figure 4.13
Importance of Modes of Support Delivery
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ho ps fic e er vi ce /a ud gu er en ce of da y its id e s r
Very unimportant Unimportant Undecided Important Very important
vi si ts
et s In t C
ic at e
Mode of Support
Holt et al (2001) documents that modes of support delivery should be flexible and creative to adapt to various organisations needs. So it was considered important to investigate which modes of support delivery organisations found most effective in assisting in the implementation of BS8555. Figure 4.13 illustrates that 100% of responding organisations found a dedicated EMS officer very useful. Additional comments from organisations regarding the EMS officer included: “Our EMS officer was brilliant adding a personal touch to the process, she integrated well with our business and she was always available when we needed her”. “ STEM’s strength was its people they were well balanced and they took a lot of the work load off us”. The findings and comments suggest that the use of dedicated EMS officer assigned to each business gives the support a personnel approach and participating organisations can build up a relationship with that person. Onsite visits and audits were also considered very important by 92% of responding organisations. This suggests that organisations prefer support on premises reducing the amount of time away from every-day business issues. Indeed Best (2006a) commented that the STEM project had to reduce the number of support workshops from three to one as staff responsible for implementing the EMS in the organisations found it difficult to attend. However workshops were considered useful or very useful by 83% of responding organisations assisting in implementation. Other elements of the support offered by the STEM project were also consider important by responding organisations though not very important.
Possible Improvement of STEM with Involvement From Supply Chain Businesses and Trade Asscociations
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Yes No Don't Know
Revell and Rutherfoord (2003) and Biondi et al (2000) argue trade associations have some potential as providers of environmental advice and support, and could be key tools in reaching the small business sector. While Gascogine (2002) comments that supply chain businesses have the potential to help support as mentor companies. The STEM project has no involvement from either supply chain businesses or trade associations so respondents were asked whether they thought the process could be improved with involvement form these actors. Figure 4.14 shows that 33% of responding organisations thought that these actors could improve the support offered by the STEM project but the majority 50% of responding organisations stated they did not know whether the support would be improved or not. 17% stated they did not think the support could be improved by these actors. Additional comments from the responding organisations included: “The process was effective because it was small and regional……….. with large supply chain involvement the support could lose its regional focus and personal approach”
“ It could be too top heavy if supply chains and trade associations were involved……… and we could be swamped with simply too much information” “Trade bodies could improve the process and offer more specific information” The majority of the organisations who stated yes identified trade associations and bodies as more likely to improve the process than supply chain mentors. The findings suggest that the support offered by the STEM project was consider more effective because it was local and with involvement from these actors it could lose its local focus and become too intrusive. When the responding organisations were questioned about whether in their opinion the support services offered by the STEM project could be improved in anyway. The comments overall were predominantly positive and many responding organisations felt the support was extremely effective the way it was. This is understandable due to the amount of free support that was offered and the fact that organisations had just recently reached phase 3. This is reflected in many of the comments from responding organisations; “STEM have been brilliant and the process has been a huge benefit to the company…………I can’t give enough praise”
“It’s been a totally positive experience ……its changed the we do things at [company name]” “We’ve been proactive………..Its something every company should do!” “[Company name] were seen in the past as environmental vandals………. the process has completely changed public perceptions of the company”
These comments suggest that support offered by the STEM project is considered by responding organisations as being extremely effective and the majority of responding organisations feel the process has been of huge benefit. However some organisations did suggest a number of improvements. The fact that the support was not available in other areas was seen as a major weakness as only companies in a certain postcode regions could access the support. A number of other responding organisations suggested that a weakness of the STEM project was that it only offered fully assisted support to phase 3 of BS8555 and they would find it difficult to continue the process towards achieving ISO14001 certification. Other suggestions included more flexibility in the pace of implementation and better follow services such as pre-inspection service for later stages. Certainly an effective follow-up service is more likely to ensure the EMS is maintained or organisations progress further towards ISO14001 certification. It must also be taken into account that the project has only a set amount of funding and a completion deadline. However the question must be raised of whether organisations will maintain their recognised EMS subsequently paying for certification each year or progress towards ISO14001 in isolation from the funded support offered by the STEM project. This will not be known until a considerable number of years have passed and further questions have been answered by the organisations in question.
4.8 The Effectiveness of Other Environmental Support Figure 4.15
Opinions on the Effectivness of Other Support Services Used in Northern Ireland
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
s . n ort te d tio p .. ion pp su ge ve iat ma su ns tar ss d so fo r i e n in rga ME s in ea ere ch rt o tS bu vic Th mu po No ad ral p to o ne su ing ge ny ive ict ith nfl ce ma o o Re dw dc To ate ive rgr ce e Re in t be ld ou Support Criticsm Sh p rla
Strongly disagree Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly Agree
Hooper et al (1998) investigated the effectiveness of environmental SME business support in Northern Ireland. In 1998 and found that only 24% of SMEs believed business support networks to be adequate. It was recognised as being important to investigate whether the effectiveness of the support offered to SMEs had improved in the region since. Hopper et al (1998), Holt et al (2000), Hunt (2000) and Shearlock et al (2000) have highlighted a number of weaknesses in environmental support so responding organisations were questioned how strongly they agreed with the weaknesses identified. Only 7 organisations had received advice and support in the past other than that available from the STEM project. The range of support services used included Envirowise, Environment and Heritage Service (EHS), Arena Network N.I, Energy consultants and a local enterprise agency. The findings illustrated in figure 4.15 show that 86% of responding organisations strongly agree or agree that the support they had received in the past was not targeted enough at SMEs, substantiating the weakness identified by Simpson et al (2004) and EC (2004).
The findings (illustrated in figure 4.15) also show that 71% of responding organisations strongly agree or agree that in the past they have received too much information. While 71% of responding organisations strongly agree or agree that environmental support should be more integrated with general business support an argument further proposed by Holt et al (2000). However as one responding business argued this could undermine the environmental support available. The other findings are not as conclusive with the majority of responding organisations disagreeing with those identified by previous authors, suggesting environmental support is improving. Certainly if the support offered by the STEM project is anything to go by support can be seen as being more effective and targeted towards SMEs. Despite some weaknesses of the STEM project support being identified, overall the findings have shown the approach used has been very effective at engaging SMEs in environmental management. The findings also suggest that the staged approach to EMS implementation utilised by BS8555 is effective at starting SMEs on the road towards IS014001, however the lack of recognition of the standard remains a major weakness.
5.0 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 5.1Conclusions of the Research A recurring theme identified in the research is the importance attached to free support in influencing the involvement of organisations in the STEM project. Other drivers identified in the research such as the need for legal compliance, pollution prevention and social responsibility are recognised but are not considered as yet sufficient enough by organisations to influence their decision to adopt an EMS. It is unlikely that many of the organisations involved in the STEM project would have paid for outside support from an environmental consultancy; therefore the fact that the support offered was free was essential element of participation. Many of the components identified in the best practice support framework based on literature are evident success factors of the STEM project. Components that have been particularly influential in gaining involvement of SMEs include the use of a marketing strategy limiting the need for organisations to go looking for support, the fact support was tailored specifically at small businesses, and the fact that the project was locally based. An important finding of this research is that many of the responding organisations once engaged in implementing an EMS claim they will continue the process now the available support has ceased. This suggests that initial support helps SMEs overcome many of the barriers that they face such as lack of awareness and understanding, attitudes and culture and lack of expertise. However it can be suggested that once SMEs are engaged in the process confidence in abilities grow and benefits start to be realised influencing further progress. The research findings show that the STEM project has played a pivotal role in assisting organisations to phase 3 of BS8555. The support offered has been effective in making the process less time consuming and expertise and training offered by the support have aided organisations in implementation. Modes of support delivery that limit the amount of time participating SMEs need to be away from their business premises were identified as most effective such as onsite visits and dedicated EMS officers. 69
The positive comments of participating organisations further advocate the success of the STEM project at delivering environmental management support to SMEs and the project must be seen as an important case study valuable in the development of future support programmes in Northern Ireland and further a field. However the high level of funding accessed by the STEM project must be seen as an essential element in its success and the same level of funding may not always be available for support services in different regions. Despite the effectiveness of the STEM project in delivering EMS support a number of limitations have been identified. to become involved. BS8555. One limitation identified is that support is only available in certain postcode areas and organisations located in other areas are unable Other weaknesses identified include the lack of follow-up services offered and the fact that fully assisted support is only available to phase 3 of Nevertheless funding constraints and implementation deadlines are likely factors that restrict the level of support offered and these must be considered as possible reasons for the identified weaknesses. The findings confirm that BS8555 is effective in challenging many of the traditional barriers faced by SMEs when implementing an EMS and has been developed specifically to address the requirements of the small organisation. Also many of the benefits portrayed by proponents of the standard have been realised in organisations which have implemented the standard. However support remains integral to the success of the standard and it is evident that organisations would have not have implemented the standard to phase 3 without additional support and assistance from the STEM project. External recognition of BS8555 is identified as key weakness of the standard and the promotion of BS8555 as the Acorn approach is identified as creating increased confusion. Further success of the standard rests on it being promoted more effectively by proponents, support services and local authorities, subsequently the recognition gained from implementing the standard is likely to increase.
Despite the effectiveness of BS8555 as a staged guidance approach to achieving full ISO14001 or EMAS certification the robustness of the technique as a standalone standard can be questioned. An anonymous commentator argues that at phase 3 of BS8555 an organisation does have the basic elements of an EMS but without continuing further there is no mechanism to ensure that what has been identified is actually been applied. In comparison the Green Dragon Standard (Green Dragon 2006) maintains measures of review of implementation even at stage one and the robustness of the EMS increases at each stage. The Green Dragon Standard may be more effective for organisations that require a stand-alone EMS that meets company needs; moreover further research is required on the effectiveness of the Green Dragon approach. In the development of a new phased EMS standard ISO are likely to draw on the effectiveness of BS8555, but also other standards such as the Green Dragon approach. Progress in development of this standard remains to be seen, but like BS8555 and other incremental approaches free support is likely to be integral to its success.
5.2 Limitations of the Research The fact that responding organisations had only reached phase 3 of BS8555 can be identified as a limitation of the research. It was therefore difficult for responding organisations to assess the effectiveness of BS8555 as an approach to achieving ISO14001 or the EMAS regulation. In addition, many of the benefits or weaknesses of the approach are yet to be realised as responding organisations have only recently achieved certification to phase 3 of the standard. The STEM project support for many of the responding organisations was also the first time they had used an environmental support service. This is likely to have made it difficult for the organisations to criticise and pinpoint weaknesses in the approach. In addition an obvious area for improvement in the research would be an increase in the sample size. 5.3 Recommendations for Further Research The lack of recognition of BS8555 as a formal EMS approach has been identified as a weakness of the standard. Furthermore the level of recognition received by organisations at each phase in the implementation process is important to determine. This could present an area for further research, as it would be important to ascertain the level of recognition of BS8555 amongst a number of different stakeholders and at different stages of implementation. A comparison of BS8555, the Green Dragon and other incremental approaches could be beneficial in determining the robustness of these techniques as stand-alone standards and could be important case document for ISO in the development their phased implementation EMS standard. A repeat of this research in the future may be worthwhile when more organisations have reached phase 3 of BS8555 thus offering a larger sample size. It also may be worthwhile in the future researching the further progress of organisations that have achieved phase 3 of BS8555 once funding has ceased, in order to determine the lasting benefits of support.
6.0 REFERNECES Ammenberg J and Hjelm O (2003) Tracing business and environmental effects of environmental management systems: a study of networking small and medium sized enterprises using joint environmental management system Business Strategy and the Environment 12: 163-174 ARENA Network (2006) Programmes Environmental available at, http://www.bitc.org.uk/regions/bitc_in_your_region/northern_ireland/programmes/en vironment/, accessed last on the 19.06.2006 Bansal P and Bogner W (2002) Deciding on ISO 14000: economics, institutions and context Long Range Planning 35(3): 269-290 Baxter, M (2006) Personal communication enquiring about ISO’s progress on phased standard development email, 22.2.2006 Burgess T (2001) A general introduction to the design of questionnaires for survey research Edition 1.1, University of Leeds, available at: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/iss/documentation/top/top2.pdf, accessed last on the 19.06.2006 Best W (2006a) Personnel communication enquiring about the support methods and approaches used by the STEM project telephone interview, 16.5.2006 Best W (2006b) Sustainable together through environmental management cross border environmental conference attendance, 7.06.2006 Bianchi R and Noci G (1998) Greening SMEs competitiveness Small Business Economics 11:3: 269-281 Biondi V, Frey M and Iraldo (2000) Environmental Management Systems and SMEs, motivations, opportunities and barriers related to EMAS and ISO 14001 implementation Greener Management International 29: 55-69 Birchall R, (2005) Is BS8555 an effective route to achieving a recognised environmental management system? M.Sc. dissertation. University of East Anglia. Norwich Bradley J (2005) Environmental management in organisations; the IEMA handbook Earthscan, London Bryman (2004) Social research methods; Second edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford B.S.I (2003) British standard BS 8555 2003 environmental management systems, guide to the phased implementation an environmental management system including the use of environmental performance evaluation British standards Institute, London
Clarke Garrette (2000) Developing better communication systems for communications environmental best practice in small Business - in Hillary R. (2000), Small and medium-sized enterprises and the environment, business imperatives – Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield Clement K and Hansen M (2003) Financial incentives to improve environmental performance: a review of Nordic public sector support for SMEs European Environment 13: 34-47 Coleraine Borough Council (2005) Green Dragon programme available at: http://www.colerainebc.gov.uk/show.php?id=687, accessed last on the 19.06.2006 Collins E and Lawrence S (2004) Business networks and the uptake of sustainability practices in small and medium sized enterprises: the case of New Zealand, 12th International conference of greening Industry Network Hong Kong Dalhammar C (2000) Implementation and certification of environmental management systems in small enterprises approaches and limitations IIIEE Reports: 2, Lund University DEFRA (2005) Governments position statement on environmental management systems Environmental strategy directorate environment, business and consumers division. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/ENVIRONMENT/business/scp/pdf/ems.pdf, accessed last on the 15.06.2006 Denzin N and Lincon Y (2003) Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials; second edition, Sage Publications, London DTI (2005) Statistical press release – National statistics, UK regions and countries Northern Ireland, Statistical Press Release, available at, www.sbs.go.uk/sbs-govfiles/research/stats/SMEstats+2004.pdf, accessed last on the 28.06.2006 ENDS (2005) Moving on from ticking boxes in supply chain management Ends Report 366: 25-28 July EC (2004a) Public Policy Initiatives to Promote the uptake of EMS in Small and Medium sized Enterprises available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/environment/index.htm - European Commission, accessed last on the 25.04.2006 EC (2004b) REMAS analysis of initial sample data for the United Kingdom, Roger Salmons environmental group policy study institute, available at http://www.remas.ewindows.eu.org/pdf/reports/remas_report.pdf, accessed last on the 19.06.2006
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Hillary (2004) Environmental management systems and the smaller enterprise Journal of Cleaner Production 12: 561-569 Hooper P, Millington S and Shearlock C (1998) Reaching the SME audience; the experience of support agencies in Northern Ireland Business Strategy and the Environment Conference 1998: 92-97 Holt D, Anthony S, Howard V (2001) Supporting environmental improvements in small and medium sized enterprises in the UK Greener Management The International Journal of Corporate Environmental Strategy and Practice 30: 20- 49 Hoevengal R and Wolters T (2001) Small and medium sized enterprises, environmental policies and the supporting role of intermediate organisations in the Netherlands Greener Management International 30:61 Hunt J (2000) Environment Information and Networks – How does information reach small and medium sized enterprises – in Hillary R. (2000), Small and mediumsized enterprises and the environment, business imperatives – Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield IEMA (2006) Institute of environmental management and assessment, Acorn register available at http://:www.iema.net/Acornreister.htm, accessed last on the 26.2.2006 Invest NI (2006) Invest Northern Ireland – about investni available at http://www.investni.com/index/about.htm, accessed last on the 19.06.2006 LRQA (2006) IEMA Acorn Scheme available at; http://www.lrqa.co.uk/productsandservices/environment/Acorn, accessed last on the 22.06.2006 Merritt Q. (1998) EM into SME Won’t Go? Attitudes, awareness and Practices in the London Borough of Croydon, Business Strategy and the Environment. 7: 90-100 Miles M, Munillia L and McClurg Ti (1999) The Impact of ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Journal of Quality management, 4: 1 245-285 Morrow D and Rondinelli D (2002) Adopting corporate environmental management system motivations and results of ISO14001 and EMAS certification European Management Journal 20: 2: 159-171 Moore D (2006) Personal communication, on environmental support services available to SMEs Telephone interview, 16.5.2006 Netherwood A (1998) Environmental management systems - in Welford R. (1998), Corporate environmental management 1: systems and strategies, Earthscan Publication, London Net Regs (2005) SME-nvironment 2005; Northern Ireland, available at www.netregs.gov.uk/sme_NI/2005, accessed last on the 26.6.2006 76
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7.1 Initial Email Sent to Identified Organisations 7.2 Structured Interview Schedule
For the attention of the: Environmental Coordinator/ Manager I am currently undertaking an MSc in Environmental Assessment, Management Systems and Auditing at the University of East Anglia. As a significant part of my course I am undertaking research into BS8555 Environmental Management System (EMS) implementation in SMEs. Being from N. Ireland I have chosen to focus the research on companies within the region. Little research has been carried out on companies such as yours, with experience of the BS8555 standard. Since your company has had direct experience of implementing BS8555 and has become a market leader in doing so, it would be hugely beneficial to my research and to improving the BS8555 standard further if you agreed to undertake a short structured interview. I understand that you may be very busy, as a result I have designed the interview to take less than 20 minutes to complete and can be arranged at a time to suit you (interviews are likely to take place in June). Being from the Northern Ireland I can either visit your premises to conduct the interview, or it can be held over the telephone. If you agree to assist the research a formal letter/consent form will be posted, fully detailing the research and a copy of the interview schedule will also be sent in advance. Any information given will be treated as confidential. I would be very appreciative if you agree to assist in my research, it subsequently will help to improve the support and the approach for your business and others in the future. If you have any questions or require any further information do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to an email response and kindly thank you for your assistance Kind Regards, Mark Dawson, MSc EIAMSA (student)
Structured Interview Schedule STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
Background Information; Name; Company; No. Of Employees;
(Q1) Rate how important each of the following factors was in influencing your involvement with the STEM project and implementing an EMS? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Undecided 4: Unimportant 5: Very Unimportant Motivation factors Rank Compliance with legislation Availability of free support Customer influence or demands Gain competitive advantage Other Stakeholder influence Pollution prevention Influence from employees Improve company image Attract new customers Reduce liability and insurance premiums (Q2) Which of the following benefits have you gained from implementing an EMS through the STEM project? Benefit Yes No Don’t know Improved environmental performance Attraction of new customers Improved legal compliance Cost savings Improved liability control Improved organisational and management efficiency Customer satisfaction Improved public image Improved employee motivation and morale Improved operational efficiency and quality
(Q3) Which of the following environmental initiatives has your company been engaged in, if any before involvement with the STEM project? Environmental initiatives Environmental policy Environmental auditing Green procurement strategy Environmental reporting Life cycle assessment Producer responsibility Environmental monitoring IPC Environmental labelling Energy Audit Other (please specify) (Q4) Had your company considered implementing an Environmental Management System before involvement with the STEM project? Yes No Don’t know (Q5) Do you think your company would have paid for outside support and guidance from an environmental consultancy to develop an Environmental Management System? Yes No Don’t know (Q6) Without the support of STEM project which of the following best describes your future Environmental Management System plans? Continue and seek registration to EMAS Continue and seek accreditation to ISO14001 Continue and seek certification to stage 6 of BS8555 Continue and seek certification to stage 5 of BS8555 Continue and seek certification to stage 4 of BS8555 Maintain EMS and accreditation at current step Not sure of future plans Other (please specify) (Q7) Have you received recognition of your EMS by? Stakeholder Yes No Don’t know Customers Suppliers Other Businesses Employees Insurers / Banks (Q8) Has the level of recognition changed since you started the project at stage 1? Significant increase in Increase No difference Don’t Know recognition
(Q9) To what extent has each of the following components of the step-by-step (BS8555) approach used by the STEM project eased implementation? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Undecided 4: Unimportant 5: Very Unimportant Component Scale 1- 5 Ability to start stop the process Flexibility in the pace of implementation Use of templates and guidance notes Evidence of environmental performance over time Transparency in the process Internal profile of each stage promoting motivation and encouragement in staff Ability to stop when specific needs have been met Achievement criteria at each stage Formal recognition at each stage enabling achievements to be recognised (Q10) Can you roughly estimate how much time it has taken to get to phase/ stage 3? (Days)
(Q11) In your opinion how important would each of the following be to improve the step-by-step process further? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Neither Important or Unimportant 4: Unimportant 5: Very Unimportant Future Improvement Scale 1 - 5 Less Phases Sector specific guidance More detailed examples Increased promotion of the standard Less paper work
(Q12) How did you find out about the STEM project? Radio Business seminar Press advertisement Word of mouth Directly contacted Local authority Other (Specify) (Q13) How important have each of the following features been at encouraging you to participate in the STEM project? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Neither Important or Unimportant 4: Unimportant 5: Very Unimportant Future Improvement Scale 1 - 5 That it was locally based Tailored to small businesses Local authority involvement Ability to network with other business Free advice and support Advertised and marketed effectively (Q14) In your opinion which elements of the support offered by STEM do you think was important in developing your EMS? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Neither Important or Unimportant 4: Unimportant 5: Very Unimportant Elements of the STEM support Scale 1 - 5 Training and awareness raising Environmental expertise Making the process less time consuming Helping to change company attitudes towards the environment Gaining involvement of senior management Part funded certification (Q15) How important have the following mode of support delivery been? Scale 1:Very Important 2: Important 3: Neither important or unimportant 4: Unimportant 5: Very unimportant Modes of support delivery Scale 1 - 5 Workshops Onsite visits / Audits Dedicated EMS officer Tool kit/ Self Help guide Intranet services Conference day 84
(Q16) Do you think the STEM project could be improved with involvement from large supply chain businesses and trade associations? Yes No Don’t know
(Q17) In your opinion do you think there is any other way the support offered by STEM could be improved further? (e.g. more time, more onsite support, tailored etc)?
(Q18) Has your company used any other environmental support services in the past (please specify)?
(Q19) If so would you agree with any of the following statements? Scale: Strongly Agree, 2 Agree Slightly, Neither Agree or Disagree, 4 Slightly Disagree, 5 Strongly Disagree. 2 3 4 5 Don’t Statement 1 strongly Know Strongly agree disagree There is Overlap between support services offered You have received conflicting advice and support There are too many different support organisations Environmental support is not integrated enough with general business matters Support was not targeted enough at SME’S specifically You often received too much information (Q20) Have you any further comments to do with your company’s experiences with EMS and the STEM project?