Fabian Demicoli

The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme


Nowadays, many
organisations are striving to become more eco-friendly as society becomes more
aware of the environmental repercussions of its actions. When looking through a
list of some very successful organisations, a common denominator of proactive
environmental-friendliness is evident. Being green has been fashioned into a
stamp of approval that encourages consumer confidence and sends out a caring
message of sustainability.

The
European Commission established the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
with the aim of helping companies to evaluate, report and enhance their
environmental performance. The EMAS is a management tool that is available to
all types of organisation and is applicable worldwide. At the moment at least
4,500 organisations and 7,800 sites are registered for the EMAS, and include
public authorities as well as both multinational companies and smaller
enterprises.

The
foundation of the EMAS scheme is known as the continuous improvement circle.
This starts with an initial environmental review, which is a broad analysis of
the negative environmental impacts caused by the company's activities. Legal
requirements are then pinpointed, whilst benchmarks are set so as to measure
the viability of reducing these impacts. The second stage consists of a
development in the organisation's environmental policy and programme, whereby
the company addresses the main environmental issues identified in the initial
environmental review and prepares specific targets to tackle these issues.
Additionally, the company should also commit to comply with legal requirements
and improve its environmental performance.

Organisations
are then required to train their staff on environmental awareness and carry out
an internal environmental audit, through which they can assess the extent to
which staff members uphold the operating procedures. Organisations must also
develop an environmental statement that highlights their environmental efforts
and achievements in addition to the requirements for continuous environmental
improvements. Finally, an independent environmental verifier ensures that the
organisation's environmental policy, Environmental Management System and
environmental audit fulfil the EMAS Regulation provisions. After this
industrious process, organisations are rewarded by being listed in the EMAS
Register and can make use of the exclusive EMAS logo. The EMAS Register is an
online database hosted by the European Commission that lists all EMAS
registered sites and organisations.

The
EMAS, therefore, brings with it a great deal of benefits. Along with cutting
costs related to resources and waste management, it has potential to give
companies an edge over their competitors and improve relations with
stakeholders.

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