Reducing environmental impacts - the added value of EMAS for companies

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20 years after its inception, nearly 4,000 organisations and more than 12,000 sites in Europe and beyond have committed to the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). EMAS is a premium management instrument developed by the European Commission for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report, and improve their environmental performance. EMAS is an integral part of the European Commission’s Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Action Plan, to improve resource use patterns and reduce GHG emissions in the European Union. Understanding how governments can make better use of tools like EMAS, increasing their added value for organisations and encouraging their adoption, delivers important information for effective environmental policymaking.  

The RAVE (Reinforcing Added Value for EMAS) project was created as a follow up to the findings of the 2015 evaluation of the European Union (EU)’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the accompanying Fitness Check of the European Commission (EC). In this project, adelphi and its partners investigated the ways in which Member States currently support EMAS and other voluntary standards, especially with regard to incentives such as regulatory relief. For instance, by requiring less frequent environmental inspections of EMAS registered organisations because of their transparent and independently verified environmental data, both organisations and regulators could save time and resources. The study also explored the extent of EMAS’s added value over other certified and non-certified EMS and its ability to provide additional advantages for organisations and public authorities.

The study identified the most relevant EMAS and EMS incentive policies in 12 Member States and analysed their effectiveness, impact, and replicability. The consortium consisting of adelphi, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Italy), Club EMAS Catalunya (Spain), Trinomics (Netherlands), and the Environment Agency Austria assessed the added value of EMAS and examined the potential of EMAS to fulfil existing in the Member States reporting obligations and generate new business opportunities. The project produced the following results:

  • a comprehensive list and evaluation of all incentives currently in use in the Member States, facilitating cooperation and knowledge sharing
  • proposed the development and implementation of innovative measures to create further added value for authorities and organizations using EMAS
  • identified key barriers to uptake and to implementing incentiveies and proposed potential solutions
  • demonstrated that EMAS's added value rests primarily in the stringent requirements of the environmental statement and the greater emphasis on legal compliance, with the environmental statement especially demonstrating a higher level of transparency and stakeholder involvement that is important for government actors in evaluating organisations' environmental performance
  • identified the limits on and possibilities for cooperation between third party environmental verifiers and auditors and government inspection agencies
  • suggested move to greater digital cooperation among and within Member States on environmental data and legal reporting requirement

As the project leader, adelphi also coordinated work with the partner institutions.

Publications of this project