At a glance
- EMAS is an internationally applicable system for environmental management. It is the most ambitious environmental management standard publicly available.
- By 2011 and 2012 respectively, the number of EMAS registered organisations, sites and employees had declined.
- An upward trend was then observed until 2017, which did not continue in 2018.
- In its sustainability strategy, the German government has set the target that 5,000 sites should be registered according to EMAS by 2030.
The number of organisations and sites registered with the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and employees in EMAS-registered organisations are a measure for the acceptance of sustainable production patterns in the economy. EMAS is applicable for companies and other organisations that want to improve their environmental performance in a systematic, transparent and credible manner. The scheme’s requirements are defined in the European EMAS regulation (EU regulation 1221/2009).
EMAS focuses on the environmental aspects of activities, products and services over the entire life cycle. These must be taken into account when defining and implementing processes, responsibilities and decision structures so that negative effects on the environment are continuously reduced. Progress is monitored by independent, accredited experts and reported in publicly accessible environment statements.
EMAS improves environmental protection and can help to save costs. An increased number of organisations joining the EMAS scheme will have an overall positive effect on environment, climate and resource protection. EMAS builds on the internationally widely used environmental management standard ISO 14001, but is more ambitious.
Assessing the development
After a decline until 2012, the development was positive until 2017. However, there was a slight decline in EMAS organisations, sites and employees in 2018. In December 2018, 1,183 organizations at 2,167 sites in Germany were EMAS-registered.
In the German Sustainable Development Strategy, the German Federal Government commits to further supporting EMAS. In 2030, 5,000 sites should be EMAS-validated and registered. Since it will be easier in the future for certain industries to include multiple sites in an EMAS registration, this target does not seem unrealistic. However, EMAS still needs more support and further steps to be taken to achieve this goal. So far, companies that are EMAS-registered have advantages in water, waste and immission control legislation and can benefit from various exemptions.
EMAS organisations and sites are registered by the competent Chambers of Industry and Commerce and Chambers of Handicrafts and enter the publicly accessible database of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry database (DIHK n.d). Data based on a unified collection method are available from 2005 onwards. The office of the German EMAS Advisory Board publishes a monthly summary of developments, based on relevant DIHK statistics (UGA n.d.).
More detailed information: 'Umwelt- und Energiemanagementsysteme' (in German only).