Environment

SME Corner

SMEs (companies with fewer than 250 employees or a turnover of less than €50 million euro) and micro-enterprises are the backbone of the European economy, driving economic growth and providing jobs for a significant number of people. Despite these benefits, they collectively create a substantial impact on the environment. Therefore, encouraging SMEs towards more sustainable practices is essential in lessening this environmental impact, as well as saving energy and resources.

To this end, EMAS has elaborated several provisions to meet the needs of SMEs in order to facilitate their meeting the requirements of the scheme.

As an SME, your organisation can benefit from the several advantages:

  • EMAS full verification can be carried out every four years, instead of every three.
  • The time period for internal audit can be extended from one year to two.
  • Your environmental statement can be published every two years, provided that you forward the non-validated, updated environmental statement to the Competent Body every year.
  • Environmental verifiers take into account the characteristics specific to small organisations in order to avoid unnecessarily burdening them.
  • Fees are designed to be proportionate to the size of the organisation.
  • Technical and financial support for SMEs is provided on four levels.
  • Member States make available information on legal requirements and enforcement authorities, as well as technical information regarding environmental verifiers, registration procedures, grants and support.
  • Financial support is available in some regions and Member States in order to encourage the participation of SMEs in EMAS. These initiatives are explained in the Compendium on EMAS Promotion and Policy Support in the Member States. Contact your Competent Body to find out if these funding opportunities are available in your Member State or region.
  • The European Commission helps organisations by recognising other environmental management systems and by integrating EMAS into EU policies, which could be relevant to your SME if it is already affiliated to a regional label.
  • The European Commission has issued Sectoral Reference Documents which provides best management practices to inspire SMEs
  • The EMAS Easy method , a comprehensive methodology on EMAS implementation (read below)

SMEs who have implemented EMAS have consistently benefited financially from the resulting increases in energy efficiency and saving of resources due to their participation in the scheme. More information on the benefits attained by EMAS-registered organisations is available in the “Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations”.

EMAS Easy

SMEs can become EMAS registered by using the EMAS Easy method. Based on the Ecomapping concept, EMAS Easy is a way to implement EMAS that takes into account the size, financial capacity and organisational culture of small businesses. It brings a number of new features to the table in order to guide SMEs into compliance with EMAS, while still focusing on what matters: environmental protection in their everyday production.

EMAS Easy also supports the EMS implementation in a group of SMEs, facilitated by a consultant. This approach is useful for organisations in the same sector of activity or located in the same geographical area. Local authorities, in cooperation with chambers of commerce, industrial associations and others, can provide support for SMEs that are seeking to implement EMAS by facilitating a cluster and step-by-step approach.

The EMAS Easy Website is available under emas-easy.eu.