Welcome to our FAQ section! Here you will find the answers to many of your questions.
For the purposes of this FAQ:
EMAS Regulation refers to the Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the voluntary participation by organisation in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation (EC) 761/2001 and Commission Decisions 2001/681/EC and 2006/193/EC.
(Official Journal of the European Communities L 342 of 22 December 2009)
Date of entry into force of latest revision of EMAS (so called “EMAS III”): 11 January 2010
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, EMAS, is a voluntary environmental management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. EMAS promotes continuous evaluation and improvements in the environmental performance of participating organisations. The scheme has been operative since April 1995. The latest revision came into effect on 11 January 2010. The new elements of the scheme led to the enhanced performance, credibility and transparency of registered organisations and opened the scheme for organisations in non-EU countries.
Check out our section EMAS for You to learn more about the benefits of EMAS, the achievements of registered organisations, or to find out the latest news and events around EMAS
Check out our section on Join EMAS if you are interested in becoming EMAS registered and finding out about the process
The EMAS Regulation 1836/93 was first introduced in July 1993 as an environmental policy tool devised by the European Commission, in a step towards the Community’s goal of sustainable development. The EMAS scheme was open for voluntary participation by organisations from April 1995, and its scope restricted participation to sites operating industrial activities.
In 1996, the international environmental management system standard, EN ISO 14001:1996 was recognised as a step towards achieving EMAS.
In 2001 a revised Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 (EMAS II) was adopted.
In 2009 the EMAS Regulation was revised and modified for the second time. Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 (“EMAS REGULATION”) was published on 22 December 2009. The revised EMAS Regulation came into effect on 11 January 2010.
For more information on the history of EMAS and for a summary of the main changes introduced with each revision, please visit the policy section.
You can find a link to download the new Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 (EMAS) in all Community languages on the policy page.
The EMAS Regulation is also directly accessible on the official European Union Law pages: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32009R1221
EMAS and additional tools such as the EU Ecolabel or Green Public Procurement (GPP) complement a range of EU and national policies that are aimed at improving sustainable consumption and production. However, EMAS neither replaces existing Community or national environmental legislation or technical standards nor does it, in any way, remove an organisation’s responsibility to fulfil all its legal obligations under such legislation or standards.
The overall objective of the European Community, as defined by the Maastricht Treaty, is in particular to promote “[…] a harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, […] the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States” (Article 2).
The goal of sustainable development, which is reinforced by the European Union’s renewed Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS), calls for the use of a wider range of environmental policy tools. In 2008, the European Commission presented the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan, which is an integral part of the EU SDS. The SCP/SIP Action Plan includes a set of proposals and tools on sustainable consumption and production. The aim of these proposals and tools is to improve the environmental performance of products and/or organisations and to increase the demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies. EMAS is among the powerful tools designed to promote resource-efficient and leaner production.
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The Helpdesk also produces official statistics for EMAS on a biannual basis. You can find them on the ‘statistics and graphs’ section of the EMAS website.
When choosing queries in the EMAS register, the different results of your search queries can be easily downloaded to Excel sheets by clicking on the "Extract Excel" button at the top of your search results. You may use this data in any form you like, such as in your own documents. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
You also can download the full EMAS table by leaving all fields empty in the base search. This method enables you to use all Excel functions to sort the data and to calculate the different numbers and statistics for which you are looking.
When you are searching for a specific sector in the register, you need to follow these steps:
Interest from stakeholders in organisations’ environmental performance is continually increasing. It is no longer possible for organisations to operate without taking into account the environmental consequences of their actions. Organisations with a proactive approach to environmental challenges want to improve their (environmental) performance continuously. EMAS is the perfect tool to achieve this.
Check out the Achievements & best practices to find out about some of the accomplishments of EMAS registered organisations.
The benefits of EMAS are manifold. To find out more, check out our benefits pages: Premium Benefits through EMAS.
Furthermore, a 2009 study from the European Commission, the ‘Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations’, analyses the costs and benefits of EMAS registrations. Convincing evidence was found for a number of benefits arising from EMAS registration, including reduced costs for resources and waste management, risk minimisation, regulatory compliance, regulatory relief, improved relations with internal and external stakeholders, and achieving competitive advantage Check out the study here..
A factsheet is also available outlining the benefits of EMAS.
Generally, SMEs and micro enterprises can realise many of the same benefits that larger organisations gain from EMAS registration. The European Commission ‘Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations’ identified energy and resource savings as important benefits, since most environmental impacts also have financial implications, as they represent inefficient use of substances.
SMEs can also make use of a number of support mechanisms when opting to become EMAS registered:
Check out our section dedicated to SMEs for further information.
EMAS’ objective is to continuously improve the environmental performance of registered organisations by having them commit to continuous performance improvements and to evaluating and reducing their environmental impact. Independent environmental verifiers verify organisations’ improvement of their environmental performance. After the validated environmental statement is sent to the Competent Body it has to be made publicly available. Only then the organisation is listed in the EMAS Register and has the right to use the EMAS logo.
Additionally, since 2005, the European Commission organises the European EMAS Awards, which normally take place on a biannual basis. The Awards are handed out to companies and public organisations that excel in their environmental performance. Check out further information on the European EMAS Awards.
Several variables, including the size (micro, small, medium and large) and type (public or private) of organisations or the region in which they are registered, influence the costs of implementing EMAS. The following three categories of costs can be distinguished:
In-depth information on benefits and costs is available in the ‘Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations’ here.
Participation in the scheme is open to organisations operating in all economic sectors (see FAQ on the definition of ‘organisations’ for additional information). EMAS identifies different types of economic activity areas by using the ‘Statistical Classification of Economic Activity (NACE) Codes’ (see FAQ on ‘NACE codes’ for additional information).
The EMAS Regulation applies to all 27 EU Member States, the three European Economic Area Member States (i.e. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and European Union Accession Countries.
With the latest revision of EMAS in 2010 “EMAS Global” was added, meaning that the scheme is also open to non-European organisations and European organisations operating in third countries (Articles 1 and 11 of EMAS Regulation).
National Competent Bodies are responsible for the registration of EMAS organisations and can also opt to offer the registration of organisations located outside the Community. For more information on EMAS Global and for a list of Member States offering this type of registration, please visit the page here.
The EMAS Helpdesk has also prepared a factsheet on EMAS Global', that summarises the key provisions and requirements.
According to Article 2(21) of EMAS, ‘organisation’ means a company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution located inside or outside the Community, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, which has its own functions and administration.
According to Article 2(28) of EMAS "small organisations" means:
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (mainly companies with fewer than 250 employees) as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; or
Local authorities governing fewer than 10 000 inhabitants or other public authorities employing fewer than 250 persons and having an annual budget not exceeding EUR 50 million, or an annual balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43 million, including all of the following:
(i) government or other public administrations, or public advisory bodies at national, regional or local level;
(ii) natural or legal persons performing public administrative functions under national law, including specific duties, activities or services in relation to the environment; and
(iii) natural or legal persons having public responsibilities or functions, or providing public services, relating to the environment under the control of a body or person referred to in point (b).
In most cases, a site is best understood as a production facility of an organisation, respectively, company. Hence, one organisation can have more than one site that is EMAS registered.
Following the official definition, ‘site’ shall mean, according to Article 2(22) of EMAS, a distinct geographical location under the management control of an organisation covering activities, products and services, including all infrastructure, equipment and materials; a site is the smallest entity to be considered for registration.
The number of non-formal Environmental Management System is increasing all over the EU, as they have been designed to cover specific needs coming from specific areas or specific sectors of activity. Though each Environmental Management System represents a worthy step towards improved environmental performance, committed organisations can come to a point where they face the system’s limits.. EMAS is a standard recognised worldwide and since its latest revision it can also be applied to organisations with sites outside the EU, under EMAS Global. It is the premium benchmark for environmental management, and significantly enhances the performance, credibility and transparency of registered organisations.
To find out what makes EMAS unique, visit our section on the Premium Benefits through EMAS. You may also be interested to find out about the successes that registered organisations have had with the help of EMAS: check out the Achievements & best practices.
Yes, this is possible. Based on Article 45 of the EMAS Regulation, existing Environmental Management Systems or parts thereof can be recognised as complying with corresponding requirements of EMAS. This recognition is valuable for organisations seeking to register with EMAS: they can become EMAS registered by using the previous work they have carried out to fulfil part of the criteria required for EMAS.
In 2009, the European Commission launched a study outlining a step-by-step approach to upgrading from selected non-formal EMS and ISO 14001 to EMAS. Find it here.
Competent Bodies can submit requests to haven national and regional labels in their country recognised under Article 45 of EMAS Regulation. To find out if your regional label is already recognised, please contact your national Competent Body.
You can find all relevant information on EMAS & Regional Labels here.
Our section on “how does it work?” will answer all you initial questions. Please also check out the other pages in our section on how to Join EMAS to find out more specific information. Should you require further information, we invited you to get in touch with your relevant Competent Body .
According to Art. 4 (4) of EMAS Regulation, national Competent Bodies are responsible for suspending or deleting non-compliant organisations from the EMAS register.
Yes, there are penalties for non-compliance. Since EMAS is based on a Regulation, Member States are responsible for taking appropriate legal or administrative measures to resolve accidental non-compliance situations as quickly as possible. The main sanctioning instrument in the case of (ongoing) non-compliance with the Regulation is suspension or deletion from the EMAS register.
According to Article 3(2) of EMAS, organisations with sites located in more than one Member State may apply for one single corporate registration of all or some of those sites. Application for a single corporate registration will be made to a Competent Body of the EU Member State where the organisation’s headquarters or management centre is located. Find out more on our page on EMAS Global or in the EMAS Global Factsheet.
NACE stands for ‘Nomenclature générale des activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes’, which is the standard for classification of economic activities in the EU. The latest NACE codes (Revision 2) are based on the Regulation (EC) No 1893/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing the statistical classification of economic activities.
For EMAS, the NACE codes are used to classify the registered organisations and the accredited environmental verifiers. The agreement was made that the Competent Body who registers the site and forwards the information to the EMAS Helpdesk should collect NACE information with a minimum of one decimal after the point. Competent Bodies may compile more detailed NACE information (see the complete NACE code list).
With the introduction of the latest revision of EMAS in 2010, environmental audits, covering all activities at the organisation concerned, must be conducted within an audit cycle of no longer than three years. However, for small organisations (see FAQ on ‘small organisations’ for a definition) EMAS offers derogations (Art. 7 of EMAS Regulation).
Visit our section on small organisations to find out more.
Yes. The provisions for site visits as part of the renewal of the EMAS registration can be found in Art. 25(4) in conjunction with Art. 6(2) and Art. 18(7) (all in EMAS Regulation). According to Art. 25(4), site visits are obligatory in intervening years. Derogations apply to small organisations according to Art. 7, and Art. 7(3) in particular.
The EMAS Helpdesk can provide an outline of the key elements. For more detailed information, we invite you to consult the EMAS Regulation.
The environmental statement entails, according to Annex IV of the EMAS Regulation, the following information:
Environmental core indicators are introduced for a more harmonised and thorough consideration of direct environmental aspects. In the environmental statement organisations need to report on core indicators insofar as these relate to the direct environmental aspects of the organisation (Annex IV of EMAS). Direct environmental aspects are environmental aspects associated with activities, products and services of the organisation itself over which it has direct management control. The core indicators focus on performance in the following key environmental areas:
An organisation may decide not to report on a specific core indicator where it concludes that one or more indicators are not relevant to its significant direct environmental aspects. The organisation must then provide justifications with reference to its environmental review.
The environmental statement can be linked with a sustainability report in three different ways:
1. The environmental statement or parts of it can be reproduced in the sustainability report even while the rest of the information in the sustainability report is not part of the environmental statement and is therefore not validated. In that case it is important to make a clear distinction between the part of the report which has been validated by an independent environmental verifier and the rest of the sustainability report, which has not been audited at all. This could be done for example by applying the EMAS logo on the validated page (the environmental statement) and adding a sentence in introduction explaining that only the pages wearing the EMAS logos are part of the validated statement.
2. The environmental statement or parts of it can be reproduced in the sustainability report while the rest of the sustainability report is audited in conformance with the AA1000 Assurance Standard or another standard, for example the German IDW PS 821. This way the entire sustainability report is audited, as is increasingly the practice among large organisations. In that case also the environmental statement should be clearly identified as part of the sustainability report. Please note that the audit of the sustainability report does not preclude validation of the Environmental Statement in the context of EMAS.
3. The EMAS registration is mentioned in the report and the validated environmental statement provides the background to the sustainability report but is not a part of the report itself.
Please note that Member States may have their own additional specific requirements for linking the environmental statement with a sustainability report. For further information please consult your Competent Body. You can access the contact details of your Competent Body here .
The EMAS logo is an appealing communication and marketing tool for organisations which raises buyers’ and other stakeholders’ awareness of EMAS. Registered organisations should always use the logo with their own registration number. This tailored logo can be created with the help of the Logo Generator.
Find out all relevant information about the EMAS logo, the conditions for using it, and a link to download the Logo Generator here.
Yes, there are penalties for the misuse of the logo. Provisions with regard to non-compliance are laid out in Art. 40 of EMAS Regulation. Member States shall take appropriate legal or administrative measures in the case of non-compliance with the EMAS Regulation.
Provisions put in place by Member States against the use of the EMAS logo may refer to Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market.
What are the EMAS sectoral reference documents?
The European Commission is developing EMAS Sectoral Reference Documents (in consultation with Member States and other stakeholders) to support organisations in different sectors to improve their environmental performance and highlight the potential for environmental achievements. These documents describe best practices in the improvement of environmental performance (called Best Environmental Management Practices) based on the experience of the organisations within each sector that are most advanced in terms of environmental performance in each of many areas, such as energy efficiency, resource efficiency, emissions, but also supply chain management. These best practices can be of inspiration and guidance to other organisations in their efforts for continuous improvement of environmental performance.
Organisations need to take these documents into account when implementing EMAS and also make a clear record in their environmental statements as to how they have been utilised.
Please find all relevant information here.
EU Member States, in cooperation with Competent Bodies and other relevant stakeholders, promote EMAS (Art. 33 in conjunction with Art. 35 of EMAS). The European Commission fulfils similar obligations under Art. of EMAS Regulation.
You can find all relevant information about the roles of the different actors involved in our EMAS Governance section.
Every Member State has designated a Competent Body who is responsible for registering organisations and for maintaining the list of registered organisations in their country. The Competent Body can provide your organisation with useful information on the steps to implement EMAS and the administrative procedures and fees involved.
You can access the contact details of your Competent Body here.
The EMAS Helpdesk offers support on EMAS at EU level. It is operated by adelphi in cooperation with Arctik and 21 Solutions on behalf of the European Commission, Environment DG.
Find out more about the role and responsibilities of the Helpdesk in our EMAS Governance section.
Get in touch with the Helpdesk here.
Within the various EU Member States there are a number of ongoing schemes that give particular emphasis to supporting the participation of SMEs in EMAS. While the European Commission does not maintain a central register of these national programmes, we suggest that you contact the relevant EMAS Competent Body for further information.
Please see our page on Funding Opportunities for further information at EU Level.
ISO, the International Standards Organisation, has developed a series of standards and guidelines in the field of environment which collectively are known as the EN ISO 14000 series.
EN ISO 14001 is one of the most well-known and widely implemented environmental standards. It is used worldwide by large and small organisations and in both the public and private sectors. A revision of the standard took place in 2015. Information about the latest standard, ISO 14001:2015 can be found on the ISO website.
The ISO 14001 standard has been an integral part of EMAS since 2001, and in this way it has allowed many ISO-certified organisations to step up to EMAS through an uncomplicated process of transition.
Following the revision of ISO 14001 in 2015 an adaptation of the EMAS Regulation is foreseen for the end of 2016 in order to integrate the changes brought about with the revised ISO standard.
Find out more on the relationship between EMAS and ISO 14001 here.
You may also want to check out the European Commission study launched in 2009, outlining a step-by-step approach to upgrading from selected non-formal EMS and from ISO 14001 to EMAS. Find it here.
In the wake of the ISO 14001 Revision, the Helpdesk has also produced an infosheet which sketches the likely timeline for adjustments to the EMAS Regulation and identifies the few areas where significant changes will probably be necessary.
Please visit our page on EMAS & ISO14001 for a complete overview on the differences between EMAS and ISO 14001.
Following the enhancement of ISO 14001, EMAS still encompasses the following unique features:
In 2009, the European Commission launched a study outlining a step-by-step approach to upgrading from selected non-formal EMS and from ISO 14001 to EMAS. Find it here.
Public authorities play an important role in promoting environmental consciousness and sustainable development. For instance, local authorities are key players in local economies, as they have many responsibilities: for schools, waste disposal, road maintenance, the fire service and many more. As the level of government closest to citizens, local authorities exert a significant influence on the environmental practices of the general public. Local authorities may set an example by improving their own environmental performance through energy savings. Influence can also be exerted through green public procurement. EMAS may be used by public sector purchasers wishing to promote a greener purchasing policy.
A list of EMAS-registered organisations of the public administration sector can be found in the EU EMAS register. You can directly access the database of EMAS registered organisations and define any query you would like to use. For detailed instructions on this, please see the FAQ on EMAS statistics.
Unfortunately, the EMAS Helpdesk cannot provide you with such a list, but we would recommend you to contact other public sector organisations that have implemented the scheme. In addition, feel free to contact your national Competent Body who might be able to provide you with further information.
The EMAS Helpdesk cannot keep track of organisations that have started EMAS implementation. EMAS organisations are logged into our EU database only once they have been registered by their Competent Body and the latter has notified us of this new registration.
Competent Bodies in each Member State may be in a better position to help you because they regularly establish contact with organisations even before these organisations have finalised EMAS implementation.
Registration on a departmental basis is possible under the following conditions:
You are welcome to send a project description and a call for partners to the EMAS Helpdesk. We will publish it on this website together with your email address, so that interested organisations can contact you directly.
On 7 September 2001, the European Commission adopted a Decision (C (2001)/2591) whereby it politically engaged in a process of applying the EMAS Regulation to its activities. The first phase of this Decision was a pilot project where EMAS was implemented by several key services. After its successful conclusion, the Commission has decided on 23 September 2009 to extend the implementation of the EMAS scheme to all its activities and buildings on its Brussels and Luxemburg sites. By adopting this Decision, the Commission aims towards a better environmental management of its resources
For more information on EMAS in the European Commission and in other European Institutions, please visit our dedicated page here.
Green procurement in the public sector has a twofold role:
Community law offers numerous possibilities for public purchasers who wish to integrate environmental considerations into public procurement procedures. The European Commission has published a guide, the ‘Buying Green! Handbook’, which contains best practice and guidance on green procurement.
The guide can be found http://ec.europa.eu/environment/gpp/index_en.htm