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Environmental Management System cooperative proposed

Many corporate leaders realize that the environmental impacts of their businesses can greatly affect their future. But planning an effective environmental management system (EMS) can be a daunting task.

Spray guns

New parts-painting equipment that uses more efficient spray guns and water-based paints has marked a change in the way Phillips Plastics Corp. does business. Wayne P. Pferdehirt (pictured at right), pollution prevention specialist with the college's Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, helped devise a waste-reduction plan being used by Phillips' operations manager, Skip Swanson. (large image)

Two College of Engineering faculty members want to help companies get over this intimidation factor by providing them with the appropriate resources. Assistant Professor Patrick D. Eagan and Associate Faculty Associate Wayne P. Pferdehirt, both from the Department of Engineering Professional Development, convened a meeting in July to begin forming an EMS implementation cooperative. They hope to have the organization in place sometime this fall.

"The purpose of the proposed cooperative is to provide a results-oriented environment in which participating companies would work together to learn about, develop and carry out effective environmental management systems for their respective companies," says Eagan.

"There are already numerous seminars and classes of widely varying quality addressing EMS and ISO 14000," says Pferdehirt. "However, even in the better classes, participants leave informed but are still challenged by inertia and organizational politics. These efforts could be much better supported through an ongoing structure in which participants are able to move through the process of EMS development in a paced, stepped fashion, with frequent opportunities for discussion and collaboration with experts and peers from other corporations."

For more information on EMS or the proposed cooperative, contact Pferdehirt (608/265-2361, or Eagan (608/263-7429,