The European Commission is preparing to hand out the 2014 EMAS Awards to organisations that excel in the application of the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The award event will take place in Hannover, Germany, on 7 April, and will for the first time link the awards explicitly to eco-innovation. The winning organisations will be those that most effectively demonstrate “effective eco-innovation supporting improvements in environmental performance.”
The 2014 EMAS Awards will take place alongside the 16th European Forum on Eco-Innovation and the 2nd ETV (Environmental Technology Verification) Stakeholder Forum - a suite of events connected by a shared circular economy mission.
The EMAS Award nominees have already been identified: 29 organisations from 14 European countries. There are 21 private-sector nominees and eight public-sector nominees. Nominees are categorised by size with separate awards for micro, small, medium and large private companies, and for small and large public sector bodies. The list of nominees is available on the EMAS Awards website.
The winners will be selected by a jury of cleantech and sustainable innovation experts. Nominees must be EMAS-registered. As of the end of 2013, there were 3,721 EMAS-registered organisations and 10,826 EMAS-registered sites, according to European Commission figures. The EMAS scheme dates back to the 1993 EMAS Regulation (most recently revised as Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009). It is a voluntary management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate and improve their environmental performance.
Registered organisations must publish an annual environmental statement, which allows their environmental performance claims to be tested. Studies of EMAS-registered organisations have found that they benefit from cost reductions (such as resource and energy savings), higher levels of risk management and regulatory compliance, and better relationships with customers and suppliers. All this adds up to competitive advantage for many EMAS-registered organisations.
The 2012 EMAS Awards - the previous edition - focused on water management. Winners included companies working in wastewater management, cement, brewing and tourism, and public bodies that successfully implemented water consumption reduction strategies and technologies. Innovation has already played a significant role for EMAS Award winners - typically they are organisations that apply innovation to improve current processes or introduce new approaches.
Eco-innovation will also be emphasised at the EMAS Awards 2014 through the choice of venue and through parallel events. The 16th European Forum on Eco-Innovation and the 2nd ETV Stakeholder Forum take place during the Hannover Messe, on 7-8 April. The EMAS awards ceremony on 7 April in the Hannover New Town Hall will gather the three audiences and guests.