Glossary:Eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS)

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The European Union (EU) Eco-management and audit scheme, abbreviated as EMAS, is a management tool for companies and other organisations which they can use to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. Companies have been allowed to participate in the scheme since 1995 (Regulation (EEC) No 1836/93 of 29 June 1993).

Since 2001, EMAS has been open to all economic sectors, including public and private services. The scheme was further strengthened by the integration of the ISO 14001 international standard, which focuses on environmental management and aims to help organisations establish or improve an environmental management system, to minimise harmful effects on the environment resulting from their activities, and continually improve their environmental performance (Regulation (EC) No 196/2006 of 3 February 2006 amending Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 to take account of the European Standard EN ISO 14001:2004, and repealing Decision 97/265/EC).

Participants in EMAS are committed to evaluating and improving their own environmental performance, complying with relevant environmental legislation, preventing pollution, and providing relevant information to the public (via verified environmental audits). Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of 25 November 2009 revised EMAS to increase the participation of companies and reduce the administrative burden and costs, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

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