EMAS - the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, is a voluntary initiative designed to improve companies’ environmental performance. It was initially established by European Regulation 1836/93, which has since been updated twice with REGULATION (EC) No 1221/2009 coming into force in January 2010.
Its aim is to recognise and reward those organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance and continuously improve their environmental performance. In addition, it is a requirement of the scheme that participating organisations regularly produce a public environmental statement that reports on their environmental performance. It is this voluntary publication of environmental information, whose accuracy and reliability has been independently checked by an environmental verifier, that gives EMAS and those organisations that participate enhanced credibility and recognition.
Environmental management has become a core business issue for many organisations. Minimising the amount of waste that is produced, reducing energy consumption and making more efficient use of resources can all lead to financial cost savings, in addition to helping to protect and enhance the environment. EMAS is strongly backed by Government and the environmental regulators - organisations who participate are recognised as making strong commitments to the environment and to improving their economic competitiveness.
The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) regulation came into effect on 11 January 2010. In addition to the requirements of EMAS, the regulation also contains some permissive provisions which Member States can choose whether to implement or not. The UK has opted not to make use of the permissive article which provides for organisations outside the EU to apply for EMAS registration in the UK.
The decision not to allow for non-EU registration is on grounds that there would be resource costs with few clear benefits. The UK position will be kept under review in the light of developments on EU guidance. The UK has further decided not to appoint a separate licensing body in the UK, or allow the licensing of natural persons as environmental verifiers for the purposes of EMAS. Again, there would appear to be little benefit to the UK. This decision is supported by the key stakeholders, IEMA, as the UK competent body; and the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), as the national accreditation body. The Devolved Administrations have been consulted in reaching the UK position on these permissive articles in the EMAS regulation.
The third revision of the European eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) scheme was finalised in late 2009 with the new regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council being adopted on 25 November 2009 and was published in the official journal on 22 December 2009. It entered into force on the 11 January 2010 and is applicable to those wishing to register with the scheme. For those already registered with the scheme there was a transitional period, details of this are contained within Article 51 of the regulation.
Any type of organisation can apply to register to EMAS. Although the scheme was initially aimed at industrial sites, it now enables registration from all types of organisation from all economic sectors. As such, retailers, banks, airports, power companies, manufacturing companies, printers and local authorities can all participate in the same scheme.
The scheme allows organisations that are a single site to register, or multi-sites and corporate organisations can apply. EMAS is flexible - it can easily be stretched to fit your organisation.
An organisation outside of the E.U can apply for EMAS Global registration. They must do so through a Competent Body in a Member State that has agreed to register organisations outside of the E.U, and the organisation must use an EMAS Verifier accredited for that specific 3rd country. For more information, an EMAS Global Factsheet can be found online here
Organisations wanting to participate must follow a number of steps. Simply put, these are:
Organisations are required to renew registration on an annual basis to maintain their place on the register. Please see Article 6 of the EMAS Regulation No 1221/2009 for guidance on re-registration requirements.
CLICK HERE to access the EMAS toolkit for Small and Medium sized businesses (SME's)