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, and known as EMAS III (Official Journal of the European Communities L 342 of 22 December 2009).
Annexes I, II and III of the EMAS Regulation were amended by the Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1505, which came into force on 18 September 2017. To provide easier access to the up-to-date EMAS requirements, the Commission has produced an informal consolidated version of the EMAS Regulation that includes the amended annexes. You can find this informal version here.
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.
Organisations implement an Environmental Management System (EMS): they set up procedures to assess and improve their environmental performance. If they follow the demanding guidelines of the EMAS regulation, they can be EMAS-registered.
EMAS’ strict requirements include:
The scheme has been operative since April 1995 and has been amended several times (see below).
The EMAS Regulation 1836/93 was first introduced in July 1993 as an environmental policy tool devised by the European Commission as 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.
In 2017, the revisions of the new ISO 14001:2015 standard were integrated into the annexes I to III of the EMAS Regulation. The Regulation itself (the articles) remained unchanged. Having the ISO 14001 requirements within EMAS makes it easy for ISO 14001-certified organisations to upgrade their environmental management system to EMAS.
In 2019, also the Annex IV of the EMAS regulation EU Commission Regulation EU 2018/2026 was amended.
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 Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 (EMAS III) and the updated annexes in all Community languages on the policy page.
The EMAS Helpdesk has also published a fact sheet that summarises the main changes that have been made to the annexes I, II and III.
Since September 2017, organisations that apply for an EMAS registration have had to comply with the revised annexes. Organisations that are already EMAS-registered have been granted a transition period until 14 September 2018. If they had planned to renew their registration before 14 March 2018, they have been able to postpone their audit by 6 months, in agreement with the EMAS verifier and Competent Body. They could also choose to be audited according to the old annexes, and renew their registration according to the new annexes in September 2018.
EMAS-registered organisations need to make only a few adaptations to comply with the new annexes. In addition to the current requirements of EMAS, organisations now have to:
These issues need to be considered when the organisation performs its environmental review, that is, when it identifies its current environmental impacts and analyses its practices.
If you are an EMAS registered organisation, you can consult this fact sheet to find out about the main changes included in the Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1505.
On January 9th 2019, with the entry into force of EU Commission Regulation EU 2018/2026, Annex IV of the EMAS Regulation has been amended. Annex IV regulates the environmental reporting requirements for EMAS-registered organisations.
The key changes are:
All these changes intend to facilitate the participation in the scheme and to improve its effectiveness.
- Overview without claim to completeness -
EMAS and additional tools such as the EU Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement (GPP) complement a range of EU and national policies that are aimed at improving sustainable consumption and production.
In 2008, the European Commission presented the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan, which aimed to improve the environmental performance of products and/or organisations and to increase the demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies. EMAS was identified as a powerful tool to promote resource-efficient and leaner production.
EMAS-registered organisations commit to reduce their environmental impacts, from energy and water consumption to waste production. EMAS is therefore linked to many types of environmental policies:
But also to wider policy areas, which aim to increase the sustainability of organisations:
By promoting EMAS, the Commission intends to reach the targets of these policies as well.
EMAS has three major positive qualities: it ensures an organisation's performance, credibility and transparency. Compared to other instruments, EMAS includes strict criteria for the legal compliance of the organisation. 70% of verifiers and EMAS-registered organisations agree that EMAS is more effective than ISO 14001 in ensuring legal compliance (RAVE Study, 2017). It is also the most transparent tool, since organisations are required to publish an annual report on their performance. 72% of verifiers consider EMAS more effective than ISO 14001 in ensuring the trustworthiness and completeness of environmental reports and documentation (RAVE Study, 2017). In addition to these two features, EMAS’ superior quality rests upon:
This means that organisations, but also third parties (the general public, public authorities, etc.), have an interest in using or promoting EMAS.
On the page of the EMAS Register here.
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 you are looking for.
When you are searching for a specific sector in the register, you need to follow these steps:
Doing a search in the Register with one or several NACE codes enables you to know how many organisations are registered in a specific sector (e.g. tourism) and their names and locations. Please note that the Register may not always be up-to-date, depending on the updates performed by the Member States.
EMAS organisations annually publish information on their performance (key environmental indicators such as energy consumed, waste produced, CO2 emitted, etc., and actions implemented to reduce them) in their environmental statement. You can use the EU Register to look for the environmental statements of organisations here. If the environmental statement of an organisation is missing, we invite you to contact them directly.
In addition, in 2015 the European Commission published a study evaluating the success of EMAS. It looked at trends in terms of EMAS registrations and performance of EMAS-registered organisations in reducing environmental impacts, and it analysed and consolidated the information of many environmental statements and surveys. Have a look at the figures obtained in the report.
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 EMAS for organisations presentation offers a succinct overview of its advantages, from improved environmental performance to higher legal compliance. 69% of EMAS-registered organisations feel that EMAS helps them achieve legal compliance more easily and completely than ISO 14001 alone for instance.
A 2009 study from the European Commission, the ‘Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations’, analysed the costs and benefits of EMAS registration. Convincing evidence was found for a number of benefits arising from EMAS registration, including reduced costs for resource and waste management, risk minimisation, regulatory compliance, regulatory relief, improved relations with internal and external stakeholders, and achieving a competitive advantage. Check out the study here.
To find out more, check out our pages on: Premium Benefits through 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.
Several variables, including the size (micro, small, medium or large) and type (public or private) of organisations and 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’.
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 European Commission has published a notice on the consequences of Brexit in the field of EMAS, aimed at preparing citizens and stakeholders, for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.Organisations in the UK wanting to join or stay in the EMAS network can apply to EMAS Global. More information on this procedure is available here. The EMAS Helpdesk can also be contacted at email@example.com for any questions regarding the transition.
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 or company. Hence, one organisation can have more than one site that is EMAS-registered.
Following the official definition, ‘site’ means, 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.
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.
Organisations of selected sectors with multiple sites can benefit from the multisite registration procedure. See Annex I "126.96.36.199. Economic sectors in which the use of a sampling method can be allowed" Table 9 and 10 of the EMAS User’s Guide for the selected sectors. In the past, it was necessary for an organisation to have all its sites audited and verified every three years, which could be time-consuming and costly for large organisations. The multisite registration procedure was introduced in 2017 to alleviate this burden while maintaining the reliability of the scheme. Large organisations can now register all their sites at the same time and have them audited on a sample basis. Criteria to select the sample of sites are described in the EMAS User’s Guide. The EMAS Helpdesk has also prepared a fact sheet to summarise the process.
By registering several of your sites at the same time, you can set up an ambitious environmental strategy for your organisation. You can maximise the benefits of EMAS by adopting clear measures at your different sites in order to improve their environmental performance and increase the credibility of your commitment to sustainability.
Organisations interested in joining EMAS are encouraged to prepare their registration with other organisations. This enables them to engage in exchanges about difficulties and solutions and mutualise some costs - for example for a coach. Some regions and Member States support such projects. In Catalonia for example, the EMAS Club and the Municipality of Barcelona guided a group of SMEs to develop tools to implement EMAS and adapt them to their needs. Similarly, the Portuguese EMAS Competent Body has been collaborating with a university since 2006 to provide step-by-step support to SMEs in some sectors, and the Italian Competent Body recognises EMAS registration in “cluster” projects. Although each organisation is encouraged to register separately, the cluster itself, working together to implement EMAS, receives a certificate of recognition from the Competent Body.
Contact your Competent Body to find out if you could benefit from such support programmes.
EMAS does not set minimum performance requirements, but rather gives a chance to every organisation to implement the system that will make them improve their sustainability.
There are therefore no standards or documents with the minimum requirements available but you can consult the EMAS Regulation or the websiteto see the different steps that an organisation has to go through to attain EMAS registration. The EMAS requirements can be summarised as follows:
Our section on “How does it work?” should answer all you initial questions. The steps are also summarised in a presentation of EMAS for organisations. Should you require further information, we invite you to get in touch with your relevant Competent Body.
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.
The number of non-formal environmental management systems is increasing throughout 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 reach a point at which they face the system’s limits. EMAS 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 Premium Benefits through EMAS or the presentation on EMAS for organisations. You may also be interested in finding 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. You can find it here.
Competent Bodies can submit requests to haven national and regional labels in their country recognised under Article 45 of the EMAS Regulation. To date, only the Norwegian scheme Eco-Lighthouse has gone through this process and had some parts of its system officially recognised. The decision was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
You can find all relevant information on EMAS & Regional Labels here.
ISO, the International Standards Organisation, has developed a series of standards and guidelines in the environmental field, which are collectively known as the EN ISO 14000 series.
EN ISO 14001 is one of the best-known and most 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 transition process.
As the ISO 14001 standard was revised in 2015, the European Commission and Member States integrated the new ISO requirements into the Annexes of the EMAS regulation. They were published in August 2017. Changes compared to the previous version are highlighted in this fact sheet.
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:
With the revision of EMAS in 2010, environmental audits covering all activities at the organisation concerned now 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.
As one of the requirements of EMAS, organisations need to publish an annual report on their performance, called the environmental statement. This report includes information on the organisation's environmental impacts and its actions to reduce them. It is publically available and is verified by an independent EMAS verifier, thereby providing the general public, public authorities and other stakeholders of the organisation (employees, clients, shareholders, etc.) with a wealth of reliable information on the organisation's contribution to sustainability. This data usually is not available for most companies in the EU. It shows the organisations' high level of commitment to transparency and enables authorities to focus on organisations that present potentially higher risks of non-compliance.
Check out examples of best environmental statements here.
According to Annex IV of the EMAS Regulation, the environmental statement entails the following information:
Environmental core indicators are introduced for more harmonised and thorough consideration of environmental issues. The core indicators focus on performance in the following key environmental areas:
An organisation may decide not to report on a specific core indicator if it concludes that one or more indicators are not relevant to direct environmental aspects of the organisation (related to activities, products and services of the organisation over which it has direct management control). The organisation must then provide justifications.
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 by an independant EMAS verifier. In that case, it is important to make a clear distinction between the part of the report which has been validated by the 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 to the validated page (the environmental statement) and adding an introductory sentence explaining that only the pages bearing 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, the environmental statement should also 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 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 the EMAS Regulation. Member States are to 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.
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.
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 and emissions, as well as supply chain management. These best practices can offer 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 provide a clear record of how they have been utilised in their environmental statements.
Please find all relevant information here.
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 Club EMAS Catalonia, 21 Solutions and Environment Agency Austria 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.
EMAS is a tool to help organisations assess and improve their environmental performance; it thereby enables public authorities to reduce environmental risks. It also contributes to achieving local and national environmental targets in areas including climate change, energy efficiency and the circular economy. A presentation of EMAS for public authorities is available here. If you are a local, regional or national authority, we invite you to use this presentation to identify how you can use EMAS to your advantage. To learn more, please also consult the RAVE study, which thoroughly reviewed the added value of EMAS for public authorities and collected the opinions of many stakeholders.
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 a broad range of responsibilities: for schools, waste disposal, road maintenance, the fire service and much 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 can set an example by improving their own environmental performance through energy savings. They can also exert influence through green public procurement. EMAS can be used by public sector purchasers wishing to promote a greener purchasing policy.
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 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 to achieve 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.
A list of EMAS-registered organisations in 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.
If you are a public organisation considering joining EMAS, we recommend that you 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 support you.
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 here.