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Environmental management

EMAS logoThe EU has a number of initiatives to try and encourage companies to introduce environmental management into their organisations:

 

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS III)

This is a voluntary instrument established by the EU. It creates a standard way for organisations to measure their environmental performances and work to improve them.

The benefits of EMAS are that companies have recognised proof of their credentials as environmentally friendly and socially responsible organisations. They can benefit from resource savings and it can provide a catalyst for innovation.

Companies wanting to qualify for EMAS must review the environmental impacts of their activities, products and services. They then set up a management system with fixed objectives and must conduct regular environmental audits and produce statements of environmental performance.

The scheme has now been revised for a second time in an attempt to reduce the administrative and financial burden on participating organisations and to encourage others to use it. EMAS III places particular emphasis on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Some of the important provisions include:

  • Taking into account the characteristics of small organisations during verification. Environmental verifiers are required to carry out their reviews in a way that does not impose unnecessary burdens on small organisations.
  • Possibility to extend the period between registrations from three years to four, or from one year to two, as appropriate.
  • Option to reduce costs by registering in a cluster.
  • Fairer fees: principle of proportionality.
  • More support from the Member States to registrants.
  • The European Commission is required to maintain a database of EMAS best practices and a list of funding resources for EMAS implementation and related activities. A number of reference documents and guides will also be produced to make the EMAS process simpler for everyone.

European Commission:

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Life Cycle Assessments

Life cycle thinking is a process taking into account all the environmental impacts during the entire process of making, using and disposing of products. Integrating the concept into industrial processes aims to make products more environmentally friendly and less resource hungry.

Other useful links (external):

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Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility

Companies can integrate social and environmental concerns into their business operations through application of the Corporate Social Responsibility concept. A certified environmental management system is a credible proof of the environmental commitment of a company to CSR. The Commission has launched a campaign to raise awareness about Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises (Responsible Entrepreneurship).

European Commission:

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