With the revised annexes of the EMAS regulation, stepping up from ISO 14001 to EMAS is now easier than ever

EMAS is the most credible and ambitious environmental management tool on the market. It offers registered organisations unique benefits compared to other environmental management standards, such as enhanced transparency and demonstrated legal compliance. However, EMAS also functions hand in hand with ISO 14001, the most widespread Environmental Management System (EMS) on the market. The ISO 14001 EMS requirements are an integral part of EMAS, allowing ISO-certified organisations to step up to EMAS through an uncomplicated process. With the recently published revised annexes of the EMAS Regulation, it is easier than ever!

If you are already ISO 14001 certified…

Being successfully ISO 14001 certified means the most significant steps of an EMAS registration have already been taken, including the implementation of an environmental management system (EMS). To upgrade to EMAS, certified organisations need to fulfil certain additional requirements that are part of EMAS but not part of the ISO 14001 standard.

The most fundamental difference is the requirement to publish an environmental statement
(environmental reporting) according to Annex IV of the EMAS regulation.

Other elements should also be implemented to complement ISO 14001 requirements:

  • Make sure the preliminary analysis conducted for ISO 14001 implementation complies with the requirements of the EMAS environmental review.
    The objective of the review described in Annex I of the EMAS Regulation is to identify direct and indirect environmental aspects, assess their significance through related environmental impacts and identify compliance requirements. The environmental review also requires companies to determine risks and opportunities and examine existing practices and previous incidents.
    Most of these elements are covered through different parts of ISO 14001 (e.g. 4. Context of the organisation, or 6. Planning), while under EMAS they are grouped into one specific part.
  • Make use of the “Sectoral Reference Documents” (SRDs) that clarifies what environmental performance means for a number of priority sectors. Each document includes the following elements:

•  best environmental management practices;
•  environmental performance indicators for the specific sectors concerned;
•  where appropriate, benchmarks of excellence and rating systems identifying environmental
performance levels.
When available for their specific sector, EMAS-registered organisations are to take SRDs into
account at two different levels:
1.  When developing and implementing their environmental management system in light of the
environmental review (as requested by Article 4(1)(b) of the EMAS Regulation);
2.  When preparing the environmental statement (Article 4(1)(d) and Article 4(4)).

  • Assign a top management representative to ensure the EMS is implemented correctly and introduce an employee participation scheme to both inform and involve employees in the continuous improvement of the organisation’s environmental performance;
  • Demonstrate legal compliance and implement procedures that enable the organisation to constantly meet legal requirements;
    The key difference here is that EMAS registration cannot be granted until all identified non-compliances have been corrected.
  • Prepare and publish an environmental statement following Annex IV of the EMAS Regulation. This environmental statement has to communicate different specific key performance indicators that have to be part of the organisation’s EMS;
  • Commit to continuous improvement of environmental performance (not restricted to continuous improvement of the management system).
  • Have the EMS and the environmental statement verified by an external EMAS-accredited environmental verifier;

The figure below summarises the process. The steps highlighted in red are EMAS-specific additional steps that are not part of ISO 14001. Highlighted in green are EMAS-specific general requirement components that both EMAS-registered and ISO 14001-certified organisations need to fulfil.

Figure 1 : Upgrading from ISO14001 to EMAS

These additional requirements contribute to the added value of EMAS and attractiveness of your environmental management strategy for all your stakeholders.

If you are not yet ISO 14001 certified…

EMAS registration can be the goal of environmental management system implementation. Organisations which started with ISO 14001 with the aim of implementing EMAS in a second step recommend keeping the requirements of EMAS in mind from the start. This way, you can develop your environmental management system in a more complementary way, for example by collecting indicators that are required by EMAS to be published in the environmental statement and by continuously measuring legal compliance.

Whether you are already ISO 14001-certified or not, you can find information on EMAS in the “How does it work” section of the website and identify requirements to register under EMAS. You can also directly contact the EMAS Competent Body in your country.


Source: EC EMAS