The Eco-management and Audit Scheme, known as the EMAS regulation, represents a new approach to environmental protection through the use of market mechanisms.
- EMAS helps small organisations to upgrade existing legislation by developing voluntary targets.
- EMAS is a direct response to some of the key principles in the European Union's Fifth Environmental Action Programme, which promotes sustainable development.
- EMAS expands the range of voluntary instruments and promotes the concept of shared responsibility in environmental protection.
EMAS was adopted by the council on 29th June 1993 and opened to industrial participation in April 1995. The European Commission has supported a number of initiatives to support the up take of EMAS by SMEs. Among the was the orignial EMAS Toolkit for SMEs, which was available in both as a printed handbook and website.
The first EMAS Tool Kit for SMEs in 1998 was the result of co-operation among INEM organisations from Western and Central and Eastern Europe with experience with both small and medium-sized enterprises and environmental management. The Toolkit brought together tools which have been developed, tried and tested with and by SMEs, newly-developed tools and examples, and case studies of SMEs that had already established an environmental management system.
The EMAS scheme was revised in 2001 to include all sectors of economic activity, both public and private. The orignal EMAS scheme covered only industrial companies.
The integration of EMAS with ISO 14001 eliminated the competitive element between the two schemes, ensuring a smooth transition for companies wishing to progress from ISO 14001 to EMAS. However, EMAS continues to surpass the international standards in requirements to improve environmental performance, employee involvement, legal compliance, performance reporting and communication with stakeholders.
In keeping with the principle of continual improvement, INEM has upgraded and expanded the EMAS Toolkit for SMEs to cover the scope of the new EMAS regulation. This expansion in scope is reflected by the new name: EMAS Toolkit for Small Organisations.
Our aim was to add empowering new information, tools , links and case studies to reflect the growing experience with EMAS implementation. More than 4000 companies (both industrial and service), local authorities and non-profit organisations in Europe have already obtained EMAS registration as a trademark for environmental excellence.
We welcome feeback on the Toolkit and anticipate adding new tools and sections in are effort to continually improve its performance.
We hope this Toolkit will contribute to further EMAS registrations of especially smaller organisations.
Belgian Association of Eco-Counselors (ABECE)
International Network for Environmental Management (INEM)