The British standard BS 8555:2003 “Environmental management systems - Guide to the phased implementation of an environmental management system including the use of environmental performance evaluation” implementation in Latvia

Latvia’s integration to the EU requires a lot of changes of the current practices and regulations in different sectors of economy, including industries. Specifically in the protection of the environment the emphasis should be made on strengthening preventive approach and precautionary principle. Environmental management systems, such as ISO 14001 or the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, provide enterprises with a systematic approach to solution of their environmental problems and introduce series of tools to integrate sustainable development planning (such as Local Agenda 21, Climate Change convention and other international agreements) into various aspects and areas of their management.

In Latvia most of the companies, which have already implemented ISO 14001, are large. In the same time, the majority of Latvian industries is represented by small and medium size companies (SMEs) that generate a lot of pollution. Many SMEs want to improve their environmental performance, but don't know where to start or where to obtain reliable and good quality advice. SMEs also face certain difficulties while implementing a formal environmental management system, such as:

  • limited resources,
  • difficulty in effectively implementing the requirements of ISO 14001 or EMAS,
  • costs involved in implementation.

This leaves a significant gap in environmental performance between SMEs and larger scale companies.

The British standard BS 8555:2003 “Environmental management systems - Guide to the phased implementation of an environmental management system including the use of environmental performance evaluation” provides guidance to all organizations seeking to implement a formal environmental management system (EMS). In doing so, the standard makes particular reference to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The modern approach to systems implementation as applied in BS 8555 is heavily focused on performance improvement and common sense management. This particularly lends itself to those companies who have traditionally struggled with or been put off by bureaucracy and excessive documentation.

The project on BS 8555:2003 implementation in Latvia was designed as UK experience transfer to Latvian ground and included three main components:
- local capacity building in the phased EMS implementation in SMEs;
- testing step-by-step approach in EMS implementation at 10 Latvian SMEs;
- dissemination of the project results.


Local Capacity Building in BS 8555:2003 Phased Approach in Environmental Management Systems Implementation in SMEs

Ten Latvian consultants were trained by an expert from the UK at a one-week training seminar and assisted local SMEs in EMS implementation. Thus local consultants gained both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the BS 8555:2003 approach.
All consultants highly appreciated the logical and clear guidance provided by the standard and especially the self-check procedures at the end of each stage. These procedures prevented companies from accumulating mistakes and non-accomplished tasks and provided consultants with a checklist for supervising EMS development.
After one year of participation in the project, local consultants became true experts in phased EMS implementation and were ready to use and disseminate their knowledge and experience.

Adoption of BS 8555:2003 by Latvian National Standardization Organization
Another important task of capacity building was to provide all interested parties with a Latvian version of BS 8555:2003. This task was fulfilled by LAEM (translation into Latvian) in cooperation with LNSO (adoption procedure). In April 2005 the Latvian version of BS 8555:2003 came into force under local number of LVS 371 and is now available for all interested parties in the National Standardization Organization.

EMS Implementation in 10 Latvian SMEs
As practice has shown, the success of EMS implementation in SMEs is fully dependent on the level of motivation and commitment of top management. Most of the Latvian SMEs which were invited to participate in the project demonstrated lack of motivation to implement ISO 14001 or EMAS and a lack of understanding of what it was all about. Some of the companies which voluntarily applied to participate in the project left later on due to lack of real interest from the top managers/owners side. In such a situation, rotation of companies took place, which required additional time and efforts from the Project Manager.

Overview of EMS implementation results as for 30/05/05



Phase of EMS Implementation

Reason of Delay

Intent to Certify EMS



System is certified

in November 2004




Signum Ltd

System is certified

in April 2005




Ar čers Ltd

System is certified

in May 2005




JSC Rigas Vagonbuves Rupnica

Final stage of Phase 5

To reduce environmental impacts RVR has prepared a comprehensive action plan, which requires at least 6 months to be implemented

The system will be certified as soon as the action plan is fulfilled, approx. in March-April 2006



Phase 5

Due to financial difficulties (company has purchased new expensive hardware) certification is postponed to the end of 2005 – beginning of 2006

Intent to certify the system in 2006


Rigas Finieru Rupnica

Phase 3-4

RFR has joined the project in September 2005

Strong intent to certify the system till the end of 2005



Phase 4

ELPA has joined the project in November 2004

Strong intent to certify the system till the end of 2005



Phase 3-4

ARTA-F interrupted implementation process due to decision to replace an obsolete process line with a new one which will have different parameters

Intent to finish development of the system in 2005 and to certify in the first quarter of 2006


Valters un Meita

Phase 2

V&M has joined the project in September 2004. Due to seasonal character of fur animals growing and lack of human resources there were long interruptions in the system development.

Intent to accomplish development of the system and certify it in 2006


Baltic Supplying Group

Phase 1

Economic difficulties, rotation of top managers, reduction of environmental manager and other staff

Director promised to continue development of EMS when company’s economic situation stabilizes

Lack of awareness and motivation in SMEs to implement EMS.

Large parts of SMEs don’t see any sense in EMS implementation because there is no pressure or incentive from the market or the state.
 - construction industry, where companies don’t have a chance to win any tender without availability of implemented EMS, and
- sub-contractors of environmentally awared foreign companies, for example Rigas Finieru Rupnica  is a subcontractor of IKEA.
Due to that reason, rotation of the companies participating in the project took place.

Longer period of time is needed for EMS implementation in SMEs.
Due to lack of human and financial resources development, implementation of EMS in many SMEs may require longer time than one year scheduled in the project. BS 8555:2003 takes in account this specific problem and allows SMEs to demonstrate a step-by-step progress in the system implementation during long period of time.

Importance of human factor.
While most of the companies working on their systems development were focused on paperwork and technical solutions, Rigas Finieru Rupnica demonstrated an excellent example of personnel management and employee involvement. The main approach used by the Implementation Team for training people was - not to make people bored. Questionnaires developed for checking knowledge gained by trainees contain a good portion of humor that helped to create a positive attitude of personnel and better memorizing.
As the project follow-up activity LAEM will organize an experience exchange meeting for all project participants, where RFR will share their experience in personnel management.

LAEM prepared and published an article in Kvalitate magazine about the project in February 2005.
For the final result seminar, a press-release was prepared together with the British Embassy.
About 100 SMEs were invited to attend the final results seminar.
LAEM in cooperation with Zygon Baltic Consulting has prepared and submitted a new project proposal to the ministry of Economics on EMS implementation in ten more Latvian SMEs using the knowledge and expertise of local consultants and the BS 8555:2003/LVS 371 approach.

White Young Green Environmental (WYGE)
 is a multi-discipline consultant providing engineering, environmental, planning and management services. The business provides a high quality, responsive, national service to a diverse range of clients in both the public and private sectors representing industry, commerce, central and local government, the financial institutions, private development, the primary service utilities, transport and the retail market. As part of DTI funded project Acorn, WYGE designed and market tested the Acorn Method, which was used as a template for BS 8555.
WYGE has gained a wealth knowledge using BS 8555 through developing and market-testing the Acorn Method. This makes WYGE the only consultancy worldwide with such a comprehensive experience in the practical application of BS 8555.
List of the WYG projects and annual financial reports are available at
Latvian Association for Environmental Management (LAEM) - is a non-governmental, voluntary, non-for-profit organization, designed to join efforts of all interested parties in Cleaner Production, Environmental Management and Sustainable Development principles promotion and implementation in Latvia. The majority of LAEM members are industrial enterprises of different branches (e.g. the largest companies in their sectors:  mechanical engineering and metalworking industries – JSC Rebir, JSC Daugavpils Driving Chain Factory – Ditton, DauER Ltd, Zieglera Masinbuve Ltd, JSC Lokomotive, pharmaceutical industry – JSC Olaine chemical-pharmaceutical plant, wood processing industry – JSC Latvijas Finieris , breweries – Bauskas Alus Ltd, etc.) the rest are consulting companies (e.g. Breau Veritas Latvia, Latvian Pollution Prevention Center, BKG, Ecolat, etc.) and two municipalities.
LAEM is a member of International Network for Environmental Management.
LAEM is initiating and running local and international projects for industrial enterprises and local authorities focused on the preventive approach and precautionary principle in the protection of the environment.
Apart from that LAEM on the regular basis organizes experience exchange seminars for industrial companies. More info about LAEM can be found at
PROJECT DURATION: 01/2004 – 06/2005
PROJECT SPONSOR: DEFRA Environment for Europe Fund, UK.