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Environmental management systems (EMS) for small companies: a study in Southern Brazil

Campos, Lucila M.S.
Journal of cleaner production 2012 v.32 pp. 141-148
certification, compliance, management systems, pollution control, small and medium enterprises, small businesses, surveys, t-test, Brazil
Environmental Management Systems (or EMSs) have become an important tool for those organizations looking to manage their environmental issues such as pollution prevention, legal compliance, and minimizing the impacts their activities cause to the environment. Indeed, the benefits of having an EMS and ISO 14001 certification are mainly realized by large organizations, as small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have smaller turnover rates and thus a correspondingly smaller return on the costs of certification. This paper presents the results of a study aimed to check the views of small and large companies in the Southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina on which should be the 17 requirements of an EMS that best suits the needs and realities of small businesses, according to ISO 14001. Given its objectives, this study is classified as exploratory research. As to its approach, this study represents quali–quantitative research, as it utilizes techniques and methods which are both quantitative and qualitative. With respect to the nature of this study it is classified as applied research, using bibliographic and field research as procedural techniques. The survey was conducted in two phases, the first of which researched the view of small businesses and the second, the view of big businesses. A T-test for independent samples was used to examine the hypothesis test. The small companies pointed out nine requirements with high levels of importance while the large companies pointed out only seven requirements. The results of both samples showed similar views, but with some differences for each set of companies surveyed.