N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
EMS and Pork Production Tools

Environmental Management Systems for Pork Producers

What is an EMS? 

An environmental management system (EMS) is an organized approach to managing environmental impacts. An EMS: 

  • is voluntary; 
  • leads to more orderly, consistent and comprehensive environmental management;
  • provides standard procedures and steps designed to support continual improvement;
  • provides a framework for a producer to meet their environmental goals and objectives; 
  • increases a producer’s confidence that they are addressing all issues related to their farm’s impact on the environment; 
  • is dynamic and adaptable;
  • is results-oriented; and
  • emphasizes pollution prevention.

Producers who implement an EMS may also benefit from enhanced compliance, increased employee environmental awareness, improved operating efficiencies, improved public perception and better understanding of root causes of noncompliance. See potential benefits. 

An EMS does not:

  • establish additional environmental compliance requirements.
  • establish any performance levels.

An EMS follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle, or PDCA, and has similar elements to quality programs farms now use. Following a PDCA model leads to continuous improvement, an important feature of an EMS.

Plan - Identify environmental impacts and legal and other requirements. Establish environmental performance goals and objectives, and develop plans for addressing environmental impacts. 

Do - Implement plans and procedures. Establish roles and responsibilities. 

Check - Implement techniques for measuring progress towards goals and for addressing EMS problems and corrective/preventive actions. Establish audit processes.

Act – Implement management review procedures, improvement plans, and adjustments (to goals, procedures, etc.). 

EMS model

An EMS takes an “umbrella” approach and considers day-to-day activities, infrequent activities (such as sludge clean-out), and potential accidents or emergencies that may impact the environment. An EMS also allows for a farm to consider cumulative impacts from various activities that combined may have more of an impact than when considered singly.