The European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is the most comprehensive environmental management and audit system in the world. It is a voluntary instrument for the continuous improvement of an enterprise or other organisation's environmental performance, with an environmental management system (EMS) and external verification in the form of an official periodic audit, for all sectors and organisation sizes. It covers and in part extends all of the requirements of the DIN EN ISO 14001.
EMAS is a voluntary tool available for any kind of organisation aiming to:
Since April 2015, large enterprises in Germany are subject to a compulsory energy audit every four years (German Energy Performance Ordinance (EDL-G, 15.04.2015)). However, if a company already follows an EMAS Environmental Management System, then this requirement is no longer applicable, whereas companies with only the ISO 14001 Certificate will still need to undergo the new Energy Audit.
ISO 14001 is focussed primarily on improvements to the management system. EMAS obliges enterprises to a system of verifiable continuous improvement of its environmental performance, above and beyond the requirements of law. Measurable goals and regular internal and external audits verify whether the planned improvements to the operational environmental protection have been achieved or not.
Since EMAS covers all the requirements of ISO 14001, the final declaration of the environmental auditor and EMAS registration brings with them a verification of conforming to the ISO 14001.
An important part of the EMAS public information and engagement process is the Environmental Statement (ES). The ES is a written summary of the most important information, data and facts, as well as a description of the self-imposed programme for improvement of environmental impacts and performance of the enterprise.
The participation in the EMAS results in a certificate in accordance with ISO 14001, since the EMAS satisfies all of the latter's requirements. the concluding declaration of the auditor and the registration of the EMAS is a verification of conformity to the ISO 14001. The auditor is empowered to award an ISO 14001 Certificate.
Whereas not the case with ISO 14001, participation in the EMAS programme is also verification of meeting all non-dispensable legal requirements. EMAS therefore provides protection to responsible parties and facilitates liability insurance.
Article 4 of the EMAS Regulation requires the following steps for an organisation to qualify for registration with EMAS:
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is voluntary standard which helps organisations of a braod variety achieve a higher level of self-evaluation, management and improvement of their environmental performance.
EMAS is recognised as the most credible and robust environmental management system in the world. It matches the EN ISO-14001 standard step for step, then adds four 'pillars' to its requirements:
Each bi-annual review sets higher targets of environmental performance. There is no room for complacency with EMAS.
EMAS provides a guarantee for internal and external purposes that standards are being maintained in an optimal fashion, and verified by external auditors.
Annual reports, such as the Environmental Statement (ES), are a convenient and meaningful way to communicate an organisation's genuine commitment to environmental standards.
EMAS has been shown to raise employee morale, and ensures all resources are engaged in achieving clear goals.
EMAS is open to any organisation, of any size, in both the public and private sectors. All 27 member states of the European Union may obtain it, as well as countries of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein). Organisations in countries which may one day become an EU member may also seek the EMAS standard.
ISO 14001 is a stepping-stone to obtaining EMAS. ISO 14001 can be the management system element of EMAS. However, EMAS is a more stringent standard, and as such has the following differences:
|Status||Under no legal bases. (International: world wide) ISO standard under private law||Under legal bases (EU Member States and EEA countries). Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council under public law|
|Organisation||Does not go towards entities or sites||The entity to be registered shall not exceed the boundaries of the Member State, and it is intended to go towards entities and sites|
|Policy||Does not include a commitment to the continual improvement of environmental performance but of the performance of the system||Included commitment to continual improvement of environmental performance of the organisation|
|Initial environmental review||Initial review is recommended, but not required||Obligatory preliminary review, when is the first time that the organisation sets its environmental status|
|Environmental aspects||Required only a procedure able to identify environmental aspects||Identification and evaluation of the environmental aspects (direct and indirect). Establishment of criteria for assessing the significance of the environmental aspects|
|Legal compliance||Only commitment to comply with applicable legal requirements. There is no compliance-audit||Obligatory to demonstrate it. Required full legal compliance. There is a compliance-audit|
|External communication||Not open dialogue with the public. Only is required to respond to relevant communication from external interested parts. Control by public is not possible||Open dialogue with the public. Public Environmental Statement (validated for verifiers)|
|Continual improvement||Required periodically improvement without a defined frequency||Required annual improvement|
|Management review||Required an environmental performance in the management, but not through a performance audit||Is wider and requires an evaluation of the environmental performance of the organization, based in a performance-audit|
|Contractors and suppliers||Relevant procedures are communicated to contractors and suppliers||Required influence over contractors and suppliers|
|Employee involvement||No||Active involvement of employees and their representatives|
|Internal auditing||Included only system audit against the requirements of the standard||Includes: system-audit, a performance-audit (= evaluation of environmental performance) and an environmental compliance-audit (= determination of legal compliance)|
|Auditor||Advised the independence of the auditor||Required the independence of the auditor|
|Audits||Check environmental system performance. No frequency required||Check for improvement of environmental performance. Frequency required: 3 year cycle during which all areas are verified at least once|
|External verification||No||Accredited environmental verifiers|
|Verification/ Certification Scope||Certifiers accredited according to EAC code||Verifiers accredited according to NACE codes|
|Authorities are informed||No obligation||Obligation by Validation of Environmental Statement|
The German EMAS Advisory Board (UGA) is an independent committee to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). As a multi-stakeholder forum, the UGA brings the various interest groups in environmental management together, and is actively engaged in the implementation and dissemination of the European environmental management system EMAS. Tasks, composition and powers of the UGA are regulated by the Environmental Audit Act (Umweltauditgesetz - UAG).
ISO is the International Organisation for Standardization. Although the name is often taken by English-speakers to be an acronym (International Standards Organization), officially it is not an acronym, but derived from the Greek word isos, (equal). Hence, the title ISO is used by other languages, such as French, which otherwise would use Organisation internationale de normalisation, leading to a plethora of acronyms.
ISO is an international organization which establishes standards for the world, except for the fields of electrics and electronics, which falls to the jurisdiction of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and telecommunications, for which the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is responsible. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and is currently active in 164 countries.
In 1992, the British Standards Institute (BSI Group) published the BS 7750, an environmental management systems standard. This was a world first, and when ISO wanted to develop a similar standard in 1996, they based it on the British model. Currently, a quarter of a million organisations in at least 160 countries utilise the ISO 14000 series.
ISO 14'000 is a family of standards which recommends standards for effective environmental management, with large companies and organisations in mind. This includes the vast majority of major organisations in the more developed countries, as well as many small-to-medium sized enterprises. In Europe, all organisations applying EMAS automatically meet the requirements of ISO 14001 for their environmental management system.
The aim is to aid operations and organizations to minimise their impacts on the environment, and to comply to applicable laws and other external requirements. The policy is not to set an absolute fixed standard, but to allow for a process of continuous review and application of techniques available, so that continuous improvement is the result.
For this purpose, the terms BAT (Best Available Technology) and BATNEEC (Best Available Technology Not Entailing Excessive Cost) find application.
An external audit is conducted on an organisation's environmental management system (EMS). The audit focuses on how a product is produced, rather than the product itself. The ISO 14'000 is often audited along with the quality management system, ISO 9'000. If this is the case, the ISO 19011 audit standard is applied when assessing mutual compliance.
The EU only Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) uses the standards as laid out in ISO 14001 as integral part of its standard specifications. EMAS goes beyond ISO 14001 in areas such as performance improvement, legal compliance and obligation to report and inform.
With ISO 14001 there is no requirement for an environmental audit. There are procedures for identifying environmental factors. The focus of ISO 14001 is improvement of the management system, and for EMAS the focus is continuous improvement of environmental performance.
Both EMAS and ISO 14001 have obligations to meet and maintain relevant laws and regulations, but EMAS alone stipulates the process of verification through an independent external environmental auditor.
ISO 14001 requires its environmental policies to be accessible to the public, while EMAS promotes open dialogue between external stakeholders.
ISO promotes training for staff, and EMAS promotes active participation of all staff at every level, as well as representatives.
ISO 14001 provides for an internal audit of its management system, and EMAS lays down a fixed method for internal verification of its operations (management system, performance and compliance).
In EMAS, an accredited environmental auditor validates the environmental declaraton and verifies the implementation of the management system. With ISO 14001 the certification occurs according to the ISO standards.
In the EMAS procedure, each organisation is listed with a unique reistration number in a registry open to the public. The registration process is done with participation of the environmental authorities. With ISO, there is neither a public registry nor participation by environmental authorities.
EMAS has its own logo, but ISO does not.
Content © Andrew Bone. All rights reserved. Created : May 30, 2015 Last updated :March 20, 2016
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