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The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a voluntary scheme which allows all types of organizations to improve their environmental performance and achieve recognition for doing so.
Its origins lie in European Council Regulation 1836/93, which allowed participation by industrial sector organisations within the EU in the Scheme. This Regulation is now in its third version and extends to all types of organisations.
The aim of EMAS is to recognise and reward those organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance and continuously improve their environmental performance.
EMAS calls for maintenance of an effective environmental management system (EMS) which ensures that an environmental policy is available, that objectives, targets and programmes are set to improve environmental performance and the promulgation of such to ensure continuous improvement as a whole.
The Regulation requires EU Member States to form administrative structures for the scheme. In the UK, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) carry out this function as the 'Competent Body'.
Differences between EMAS and ISO 14001
EMAS is fully compatible with the requirements of ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management systems, but there are a number of areas where EMAS goes further than ISO 14001, as follows:
- EMAS requires the organisation to carry out an environmental review of all environmental aspects of the organisation
- EMAS requires the organisation to report against a set of core indicators – energy efficiency, material efficiency, waste, biodiversity and emissions
- EMAS requires the production of an environmental statement (made available to the public) documenting the organisation’s environmental performance. This statement must be verified by a third party such as NQA to ensure that it accurately reflects the information portrayed.
- EMAS requires that the organisation has an EMS in place which incorporates all the requirements of ISO 14001 and additional requirements relating to the environmental review, legal compliance, environmental performance, employee involvement and communication with the public.
EMAS states that organisations must 'provide for compliance with all relevant requirements regarding the environment'. ISO 14001 only states that there must be a 'commitment to comply with relevant legal and other requirements'. Essentially, these can be interpreted similarly, in that, if legislation, guidelines, recommendations or best practices exist, knowledge of the legislation should be apparent and compliance should be demonstrated. Breaches of environmental legislation may result in EMAS registration being withdrawn.
Who is EMAS applicable to?
EMAS is open to all types of organisations, from all economic sectors, wanting to declare publically their environmental performance, from SMEs, local authorities, large companies and multi-national companies. The scheme allows registration to be applied corporately to a whole organisation or to individual sites.
What are the immediate benefits of EMAS registration?
The benefits from registration are similar to those of ISO 14001 with the addition of the benefit of the verified and publically available environmental statement.
The statement is a publication of environmental information, whose accuracy and reliability has been independently checked by an environmental verifier such as NQA, that gives EMAS and those organisations that participate in the scheme enhanced credibility and recognition.
EMAS could be used by your organisation to exploit new opportunities and market places using your validated environmental statement. EMAS demonstrates that you are serious about reducing your environmental impact and improving environmental performance.
EMAS registered organisations also:
- Have their details entered onto the EMAS Register - the register contains the details of all organisations that have met the requirements of the EMAS Regulation and are currently registered. The register provides the address, contact phone and fax numbers where copies of the environmental statement can be obtained, date first registered, and a code for the activities undertaken by the organisation, and the scope of registration.
- Can use the EMAS logo to promote their registration under the scheme
How to gain registration?
Initially, an effective and functional EMS that meets the requirements of ISO 14001 must be established and maintained. After this, the steps to verification and registration are:
- Preparation of an Environmental Statement - Your environmental statement must be written clearly, using language that the general public will understand.
- Verification - Once your statement has been prepared, an independent environmental verifier such as NQA must ensure that it gives an accurate representation of your organisation and its activities and it fulfils the requirements of EMAS.
- Validation - Once the independent verifier is satisfied that your statement and EMS meet the requirements, bearing in mind that changes may have been required, they will validate the environmental statement and supply you with a declaration on verification and validation activities.
- Application - Once validated, you can forward the environmental statement, the declaration on verification and validation activities and the details of your site to the Competent Body responsible for the Regulation of EMAS in the EU Member State. In the UK, this is IEMA. A seperate application fee for this may be applicable.
- Registration - IEMA will then register acceptance of the validated statement and provides your organisation with a registration number. Your organisation can then use the EMAS logo on the environmental statement and corporate literature (as described in Annex V of the EMAS Regulation).
For additional guidance on the EMAS please visit www.emas.org.uk
For more information about this service, contact our friendly team today on 08000 522424. We will be pleased to help you.