The main objective pursued by EMAS is to comply with European Community legislation by developing policy and actions that are related to the environment and sustainable development.
The environmental management system model of this Regulation is based on the ISO 14001 standard, and proposes an effective system to help organisations to manage and continuously improve their environmental performance.
However, EMAS contains its own requirements that make it a model of excellence for environmental management.
EMAS can be implemented in one, some or all sites belonging to private or public organisations in any sector of activity. Even the smallest of entities can be registered as a site.
It is a standard that can be integrated with both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Main differences between EMAS and ISO 14001
- ISO 14001 is an international standard that can be applied worldwide, whereas EMAS can only be applied in organisations participating with EU member states.
- EMAS requires an environmental review prior to implementation, whereas ISO 14001 only suggests that an initial review is recommended to develop the Environmental Management System in order to identify significant environmental aspects and impacts.
- EMAS requires an environmental statement, verified by an accredited third party, to be made available to all who wish to see it. However, there is no requirement for an environmental statement in ISO 14001.
- The international standard ISO 14001 can be applied to all parts of the organisation, whereas EMAS can only be applied to an organisation's "site of operations".
- EMAS requires the company to comply with all relevant requirements related to the environment, however, ISO 14001 only requires a commitment to comply with current environmental legislation.
- EMAS decrees that auditing of the Environmental Management System and environmental performance must be carried out every 3 years, whereas ISO 14001 does not specify the frequency, it tells us that they must be carried out at planned intervals.
Benefits of implementing EMAS
- Establishment of environmental performance indicators to analyse and measure the efficient use of resources, from a life cycle perspective, and risk-based thinking.
- On the one hand, it ensures legal compliance, and on the other hand it helps the company to anticipate the approval of new environmental requirements, which helps to minimise risks from a preventive approach and to identify new business opportunities.
- It requires the involvement of employees, making them aware of the importance of their participation in the management system.
- The Environmental Statement to be made must be validated by an independent and accredited verifier, and serves as a powerful tool for communication with each company's stakeholders, evidencing the high corporate commitment and highlighting the actions taken.
- Promoting continuous improvement in the organisation, new targets are investigated for reducing consumption, changes in processes, the search for less polluting materials, etc. Thus leading the company towards innovation.