What is environmental management?
An environmental management or environmental management system (EMS) is a method, which a company or any other user can apply to systematically find, reduce or avoid adverse environmental impacts. Adverse environmental impacts can be caused by an organisation, directly or indirectly, and include (permanent) pollution of air, water or soil, disturbances or hazards from noise, vibration, odour or light, or unnecessary waste of resources. The term "systematic" is associated with an approach in which all activities follow the Deming PDCA cycle:
P = PLAN Before work begins, management defines the desired goal. This is followed by stocktaking and evaluation in order to complete work processes as effectively as possible.
D = DO When work is performed, at least the responsibilities (WHO) and the type of participation (decision, participation, information) as well as the sequence of work (WHAT) must be defined. In addition, it must be apparent that the work has taken place (PROOF).
C = CHECK Once work is completed a check (e.g. audits, measurements, inspections) follows to ensure that everything has been completed on time, correctly and completely.
A = ACT After all three phases have been completed, management evaluates whether sufficient progress has been made with the measures and objectives achieved and derives new objectives for the next development steps.
What standards are there?
An environmental management system (EMS) can be established in a company according to its own preferences and requirements. Two of the most important standards currently in place are:
DIN EN ISO 14001
Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance on application
It is an internationally valid, free-market standard that is developed in national, European or international standardisation activities. Standards are adopted by consensus and reviewed or amended after about five years to ensure that they are up to date. The application of a standard is not mandatory in principle as long as there is no compelling reason as a component for contract performance or legal requirements. Standards are distributed in Germany by Beuth-Verlag in Berlin or can be accessed at a standards info point.
EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme)
Regulation VO (EG) 1221/2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme
This environmental management system is based on an EU regulation which was discussed advised and adopted by the Commission and the Parliament and is also reviewed after 5 to 7 years to ensure that it is up to date. As a legal framework, the regulation would be binding, but the word "voluntary" in the title allows companies to decide for themselves whether they want to introduce EMAS. The Regulation is available in all official EU languages via the EU-law-portal EUR-Lex.
Who checks an environmental management system?
DIN EN ISO 14001
The examiners (auditors) need a permission, which they get by acting for an accredited certification body. In Germany, these approvals are issued by the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS) and can be found in the database of accredited bodies.
Accreditations are granted by the DAkkS not only for ISO 14001. With the feature "Certification for management systems: T60" you will find the certifiers for the environmental management system in the database. Please make sure that the accredited body is also approved for your industry. You may also select and filter these with the characteristic "Certification for management systems (economic sector)" .
Approval of environmental verifiers
Approved environmental verifier (see EMAS) are also able to issue ISO 14001-certificates.
Environmental verifiers need a permit, which they receive through a personal examination. In Germany, the DAU GmbH (Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle für Umweltgutachter und -organisationen GmbH - German Accreditation Body for Environmental Verifiers and Organisations) carries out the examinations. Accredited environmental verifiers can be looked up at DAU GmbH in an environmental verfier database. Please make sure, too, that your environmental verifier (team) is approved for your industry sector. You can select and filter them by searching the NACE code (Nomenclature of Economic Activities) database.
Who has a "tested" environmental management system?
DIN EN ISO 14001
There is no superordinate registry of issued certificates, but each accredited certification body must keep an internal registry and most of them offer a database for their issued certificates. Companies and organisations with certification may submit their certificate as proof.
The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) maintains the register of all sites in Germany that apply EMAS and are entered in the register with a validated environmental statement (www.emas-register.de). The participating organisations submit their environmental statement as proof. In addition, a certificate of entry in the EMAS register is issued by the registering chamber of commerce (or chember of crafts).