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Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM)

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The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) was formed in April 1990 by a coalition of 21 companies including IBM, AT&T and Kodak. The goal of the organization is to develop strategies and standards for corporate environmental performance.

GEMI's member companies, which now number around 40, operate in a variety of industry sectors, from the chemical industry to communications. Through GEMI they share best practice with one another on environment, health and safety issues.

GEMI co-operates with international organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Chamber of Commerce. It is also recognized as the creator of Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM), a method of applying total quality management approaches to corporate environmental strategies.

TQEM supports continuous improvement of corporate environmental performance. Companies that have already implemented TQM programs will find it relatively easy to satisfy the requirements of TQEM.

According to GEMI's 'TQEM Primer', there are four basic elements of TQEM:

  • Customer identification: in TQEM, environmental quality is determined by customer preferences. Buyers, the local community, environmental groups and the general public are considered external customers, while a company's employees represent the internal customer group.
  • Continuous improvement: a company's management and employees should work systematically towards the improvement of environmental performance. Company-wide employee involvement in TQEM is a key to success.
  • Doing the job right first time: TQEM supports the elimination of environmental risks. Employees should seek to identify and eliminate potential environmental problems.
  • A systems approach: it is important to design all components of the TQEM system so that they function together and support each other in achieving desired goals.
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