1Frequently Asked Questions

1Frequently Asked Questions

1Frequently Asked Questions


What is EMAS ?
History of EMAS
Who can participate in EMAS?
What is the definition of an "organisation"?
What are the NACE codes?
Which countries participate in EMAS?
Why should I participate in EMAS?
Who should I contact if I want to register to EMAS?
What are the different steps to implementing EMAS?
What are the conditions for using the EMAS Logo?
What are the benefits of EMAS?
What are the costs of EMAS?
What are the funding possibilities for the implementation of EMAS?
What are the benefits of EMAS for small or medium sized enterprises (SME's)?
What is the EMAS Helpdesk?


What is EN ISO14001?
Compatibility of EMAS with international standards
What is the difference between ISO14001 and EMAS?
How to implement EMAS if EN ISO14001 already exists?
Modifications to EN ISO 14001 to meet EMAS requirements
EMAS Implementation Route for an EN ISO 14001 certified organisation


What is EMAS ?

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, EMAS, allows voluntary participation in an environmental management scheme for organisations operating in the European Union and the European Economic Area. The scheme has been operative since April 1995. It aims to promote continuous evaluation and improvements in the environmental performance of participating organisations.

History of EMAS

The EMAS Regulation 1836/93 was first introduced in July 1993 as an environmental policy tool devised by the European Commission, in 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 was published and was recognised as a step toward achieving EMAS. It was also recognised that all sectors have significant impacts on the environment and that the environment will benefit from good environmental management in other sectors as well.

Article 14 of the regulation allowed Member States to extend the scheme to other economic sectors and several Member States took the opportunity to pilot EMAS successfully in those other sectors. Article 20 of Regulation 1836/93 stated that the EMAS scheme had to be reviewed no more than 5 years after its entry into force.

In 1997 the consultation process began, which took the above changes into consideration. The Commission adopted a proposal which went through the codecision procedure, involving other European institutions (Economic and Social Committee, Council of the Regions) and giving the European Parliament similar rights to the Council in the decision process.

In 2001 the new Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 was adopted (O.J. L114 , 24.4.2001, p.1). Its main elements are:

  • the extension of the scope of EMAS to all sectors of economic activity including local authorities;
  • the integration of ISO 14001 as the environmental management system required by EMAS, so that progressing from ISO 14001 to EMAS will be smoother and not entail duplication;
  • the adoption of a visible and recognisable EMAS logo to allow registered organisations to publicise their participation in EMAS more effectively;
  • the involvement of employees in the implementation of EMAS;
  • the strengthening of the role of the environmental statement to improve the transparency of communication of environmental performance between registered organisations and their stakeholders and the public; and
  • a more thorough consideration of indirect effects including capital investments, administrative and planning decisions, procurement procedures, choice and composition of services (e.g. catering)

The Regulation consists of 18 Articles and 8 Annexes. Unlike other management systems standards the annexes form part of the Regulation - they are not merely informative, the requirements of the annexes must be met.

The Commission has prepared a short document, mainly aimed at verifiers and Competent Bodies which briefly explains the various situations a registered or registering organisation can encounter during the transition phase and gives guidance on how to solve problems that might occur. This document is available for download on the Documents section.

Why EMAS ?

The overall objective of the European Community, as defined by the Maastricht Treaty, is in particular to "promote a harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment… the raising of standards of living and quality of life."

The scheme does not replace existing Community or national environmental legislation or technical standards nor does it, in any way, remove a company's responsibility to fulfil all its legal obligations under such legislation or standards.

The goal of sustainable development, which is now integrated into the European Union objectives, calls for the use of a wider range of tools for environmental policy. The 6th Community Environmental Action Programme, "Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice", recognises this and aims to be a programme that "…completes and reinforces our body of environmental legislation where there are gaps and takes forward the implementation of our directives…does more in terms of mobilising stakeholders for the environment and 'greening' the market".

In some Member States environmental instruments (Regulations, Directives, etc.) are the basis for most of the environmental legislation in force. In spite of all the Directives and Regulations adopted by the EC, and the international and national action in this field, environmental quality is still not improving as rapidly as some would hope. European Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallström comments:

"…we will not solve environmental problems by simply adding a few new directives every year to our existing 270 or so pieces of European environmental law, especially if we discover later on that these directives are not implemented by the Member States…we need a broader range of instruments to tackle ever more diffuse sources of environmental pressures…We need instruments which:

  • Promote information, awareness and commitment with citizens and in the business community;
  • Give the right incentives for environmental improvements in the market place; and
  • Ensure the integration of the environment into other policies."

At the level of the European Commission such an instrument is already evident in EMAS, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme.

Who can participate in EMAS ?

Originally, the EMAS scheme was site based and open only to companies operating industrial activities, However, EMAS scope has widened and it can now be applied to any organisation which has an impact on the environment. Therefore, participation in the scheme is open to organisations operating in all economic sectors. (See FAQ on the definition of organisation)

EMAS identifies the different types of economic activity areas by using "Statistical Classification of Economic Activity (NACE) Codes". (See frequently asked question about NACE codes)

Registration in the scheme requires an organisation to adopt an environmental policy containing commitments both to comply with all relevant environmental legislation and also to achieve continuous improvements in environmental performance.

At the organisation, an initial environmental review is undertaken. In the light of this review and the policy an environmental programme and environmental management system is established for the organisation.

Organisation environmental audits, covering all activities at the organisation concerned, must be conducted within an audit cycle of no longer than 3 years and, based on the audit findings, environmental objectives set and the environmental programme revised to achieve the set objectives. On completion of the initial environmental review and subsequent audits or audit cycles a public environmental statement is produced.

What is the definition of an "organisation" ?

The expansion of EMAS from its traditional coverage of the Industrial/Manufacturing sectors to all organisations having an environmental impact means that entities with many different organisational structures will be able to register to EMAS. Entities with the following organisational structures have been identified, with examples given:

  1. Organisations operating on just one site - this is the simplest case and sites already registered to EMAS will fall into this category;
  2. Organisations which could, under exceptional circumstances, register an entity smaller than one site, eg a company producing two dissimilar products at one site may register one of the product lines;
  3. Organisations operating in different sites, either a) with the same or similar products or services (eg banks or retail chains), or b) with different products or services (eg a chain of waste disposal sites or a mechanical component manufacturer);
  4. Organisations for which a specific site cannot be properly defined - this will apply to organisation operating over a large geographical area, such as telecommunications, waste collection or transport;
  5. Organisations controlling temporary sites (eg contracting companies such as construction companies or service providers);
  6. Independent organisations registering as one common organisation, such as a small industrial park or a holiday complex;
  7. Small enterprises operating in a given large territory and producing the same or similar products or services. - this applies to SMEs concentrated in a well defined geographical area, such as shopping malls or business parks;
  8. Local authorities and governmental institutions.

The choice of entity to be registered will be a combination of management control and geographic location, however, the entity to be registered as an organisation under EMAS shall not exceed the boundaries on one Member State.

Further guidance as to the definition of "organisation" may be obtained from the guidance document available on this website.

What are the NACE codes?

NACE stands for "Nomenclature générale des activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes", which is the standard for classification of economic activities in the EU.

Details of these can be found in Council Regulation No: 3037/90 (as amended by Regulation No 761/93 and 29/2002), NACE Rev 1. Under the previous regulation, the scheme was open to the industrial sector covering only NACE codes from 10 to 40. Now that EMAS II allows participation of organisations from all economic sectors, the whole range of NACE codes is applicable.

This list enumerates NACE codes with a maximum of two decimals after the comma, however, there are NACE lists that go much deeper into detail with up to five decimals after the comma.

For EMAS, the NACE codes are used to classify the registered organisations and the accredited verifiers. The agreement was made that the Competent Body which registers the site and forwards the information to the EMAS Helpdesk should collect NACE information with a minimum of one decimal after the point. It varies from one Competent Body to the other if they go into more detail or not.

  • See the complete NACE code list (PDF 116Kb)

Which countries participate in EMAS?

The EMAS Regulation applies to all 15 EU Member States and the 3 European Economic Area Member States i.e. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, but all candidate countries are implementing the scheme in preparation for their accession to the EU.

Why should I participate in EMAS?

In recent years there has been a growing realisation that responsibility to the community is one of the yardsticks of good management, and care for the environment is a positive and logical extension of this responsibility. EMAS is designed to help organisations respond to this concern, and to secure the support of top management for environmental action. There is, after all, a compelling business argument in favour of environmental action. Waste and pollution, wherever they occur, are usually symptoms of an inefficient production process. Therefore they represent an opportunity to improve performance.
Thus, participation in EMAS should enable an organisation to gain a marketplace advantage by improving stakeholder relations, to reap financial benefits through better control of operations and to assist in compliance with future, as well as current, legislation.

Who should I contact if I want to register to EMAS?

Every Member State has designated a Competent Body which is responsible for registering organisations and for maintaining the list of registered organisations in their country. The Competent Body can provide you with useful information on the steps to implement EMAS and the administrative procedures and fees involved.

You will find the contact details of your Competent Body on this website on the Contacts page.

What are the different steps to implementing EMAS?

The main stages involved in achieving EMAS registration are as follows:

  1. Investigating an organisation's interactions with the environment in an environmental review;
  2. Establishing an effective environmental management system on the basis of the review aimed at improving the environmental performance of the organisation;
  3. Communicating environmental performance data in an environmental statement. This statement is verified by a third party to provide external credibility to this performance-reporting element.

The formulation of an environmental policy, reflecting the top management's commitment to continuous improvement in environmental performance inside the legal framework is the first visible step of the process.

In the initial environmental review, an analysis of an organisation's environmental issues, impacts and performance is carried out in relation to its activities, products and services.

The significant environmental aspects are identified by using a set of criteria defined by the organisation to assess the significance of its environmental impacts. This will be the basis for defining appropriate objectives and targets for improving the environmental performance. An environmental programme will describe these objectives and targets and set the pathway to achieve them. Implementation and operation phases put the environmental programme into action and progress is periodically checked by internal environmental audits. Corrective actions are carried out where appropriate, following periodic management review.

This whole process is then described in the environmental statement, which has to include the following information:

  • a description of the organisation, its structure and its activities, products and services;
  • an assessment of all the significant direct and indirect environmental issues;
  • a summary of year-by-year figures on pollution emissions, waste generation, consumption of raw material, energy and water, and noise;
  • a presentation of the organisation's environmental policy, programmes and management system;
  • the deadline for the next statement; and,
  • the name and accreditation number of the environmental verifier and the date of validation.

Once the environmental statement has been accredited by the verifier, the Competent Body will register the company after receipt of the registration fee. The company now has the right to use the EMAS logo.

What are the conditions for using the EMAS Logo?

One of the core elements of the revised EMAS is the introduction of different options for the communication of environmental information to stakeholders and to facilitate this the EMAS logo has been introduced.

The EMAS logo has the following functions:

  • to indicate the reliability and credibility of information provided by an organisation with regard to its environmental performance;
  • to indicate the organisation's commitment to improvement in environmental performance and to the sound management of its environmental aspects;
  • to raise awareness about the scheme in the public, among interested parties and among organisations willing to improve their environmental performance.

There are two logos, Version 1 for "Verified Environmental Management" and Version 2 for "Validated Information".

insert logos

The options for their use are:

  1. On validated information, as described in Annex III of the Regulation (Version 2);
  2. On validated environmental statements (Version 2);
  3. On registered organisations' letterheads (Version 1);
  4. On information advertising an organisation's participation in EMAS (Version 1); and
  5. On adverts for products, activities and services (Version 2).

The logo shall be used either

  • in three colours (Pantone No 355 Green; Pantone No 109 Yellow; Pantone No 286 Blue)
  • in black on white or
  • in white on black.

Both versions of the logo shall always bear the registration number of the organisation. Specifications relating to the above uses are given in the Regulation and in the guidance available on this website.

Organisations participating in EMAS may now use the EMAS logo to publicise and promote their involvement in the scheme provided they have a current EMAS registration. The logo may not be used on products or their packaging or in conjunction with comparative claims concerning other products, activities and services. The EMAS logo may not be used by itself.

What are the benefits of EMAS?

The uptake and success of EMAS is heavily dependent on whether the scheme is able to deliver the potential benefits, without entailing excessive human or financial resources. This is particularly the case for uptake by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) (See the "Report on SMEs and the Environment", produced for the Directorate General Environment:
(PDF, 383Kb)

The following paragraphs give a brief overview of the costs and benefits of EMAS and draw the reader's attention to a number of relevant references.

The most common benefits of EMAS implementation are:

  • On the one hand, reduced cost on inputs, namely in the purchasing process through minimising materials, energy consumption, water consumption and other business . On the other hand, zero or negative value outputs such as: the disposal of wastes and effluents.
    These gains are not only visible in the industrial sector: service companies, universities, publicadministrations, sports facilities, and the whole range of organisations to which EMAS is applicable can benefit from a reduction of the consumption of energy and resources. Expenses for water, electricity, heating and office material and equipment can all decrease considerably with the introduction of EMAS, rising the margins of companies.
  • Risk minimisation: reduced environmental risks can also become financial benefits coming from trust by shareholders, investors, insurance companies and financial institutions.
  • The establishment of an environmental management system usually uncovers potential room for improvements in efficiency with respect to the different activities of the organisation.
  • Maintained and/or increased competitiveness by being able to satisfy the environmental management requirements of a growing number of customers.
  • A systematic approach to environmental management that will enhance all aspects of business management.
  • Improved ability to comply with environmental legislation.
  • The new EMAS logo and the verifiedenvironmental statement are proof of sound environmental management and concern for the general welfare of the community. As such, both tools raise the environmental profile of the organisation and can be used in its marketing activities to improve relations with consumers, partners and other stakeholder. Improved trust can in turn lead to better relations with the regulating authorities.
  • The involvement of employees in the implementation of the environmental management scheme is likely to reinforce the identification of the staff with the company and increase their participation in the long-term development of the organisation.

A report by the European Partners for the Environment (EPE), based on interviews with EPE members, implementing companies, SMEs, competent bodies, standardisation bodies and accredited environmental verifiers, outlined the benefits of EMAS considering the findings of those companies which have implemented EMAS.