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Thu, Nov

EMAS. What’s that?

EMAS stands for ‘Eco Management and Audit Scheme’ but you can be forgiven for not realising that – it’ not exactly well known. But it’s about to be, so listen up.

EMAS. Never heard of it? You will. According to those in the know, by which I mean environmental specialists, we can expect a massive surge in interest in this cross-sector environmental standard during 2012, partially boosted by the BPIF having secured funding to help printers work to achieve it. If you already have a decent EMS system in place and gone through ISO14001 accreditation then you’ve already done the legwork – but EMAS will put details of your environmental policies and targets in the public domain, and therefore can be used as a powerful sales tool for those of you aiming to make money off the back of your ‘green’ credentials and use them to competitive advantage.

As experienced print buyer and environmental strategist David Shorto points out, print buyers and designers are getting fed up with printers saying how green they are but not really being able to prove it. He should know, with a degree in environmental science and having bought print for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for many years, he also runs environmental print training courses for print buyers, with a strong emphasis on what’s greenwash and the common misleading claims made by printers.

“There are just so many claims of ‘we recycle this and do that’, blah, blah. My advice to print buyers is be beware of print companies with ‘eco’ or ‘green’ in their name and do not just accept their ‘green’ claims but ask for independent proof. Favour printing companies that hold ISO 14001 and display the UKAS logo as certification is the only way to prove compliance with the strict legislation. In the current climate, where so many printers are attempting to gain sales through environmental claims, EMAS is the real answer. Greenpeace, for instance, has a policy of using only appropriately environmentally certified printing companies and has a medium term plan to use only EMAS registered printing companies for sheet-fed litho print and a long term plan to use EMAS registered companies for all print requirements.”

So, if you have really worked hard at improving your EMS and want to continue to convince would-be print buyers that you really are green and use that to competitive advantage, the likes of ISO14001 are a big step in the right direction, but EMAS is another leap forward because it sets out your specific targets and externally verified achievements for proper inspection. Plus, at the time of going to press, there was only one print company producing large-format print listed on the EMAS website as accredited.

Such a listing can only be good news, especially once it becomes a more widely recognised standard; the drawback at present is there’s still a huge educational job to be done in educating print buyers and designers (as well as print firms) about EMA S.

What is EMAS?

Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) registration is overseen throughout Europe by local Competent Bodies. In the UK this is the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

The purpose of EMAS is to recognise and reward organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance and continuously improve their environmental performance. The key thing to consider, and Shorto stresses this point, is that EMAS registration involves the publication of an annual Environmental Statement that is externally verified and certified which provides enhanced credibility and recognition of your environmental status. Every detail in the Environmental Statement is externally verified before the statement is approved and the same applies to the necessary annual updates.

EMAS is really a natural progression for those with ISO14001 which requires companies to gather certain data, so they are able to put a numerical value to, for example, various types of waste and take appropriate action.

What a business improvement project aims to do is to enable firms to measure the success of what has been done and identify areas that should be tackled next. EMAS adds the continuous improvement element and supports and challenges companies to identify areas that can still be worked on.

Organisations registering to EMAS must be able to demonstrate they have identified and know the implications to their operation of all relevant environmental legislation and that their EMS system is capable of meeting these on an ongoing basis. At the time of registration, the environmental regulators are consulted to make sure that they are satisfied in this regard.

EMAS requires participating companies to improve their environmental performance by using fewer raw materials, consuming less energy, producing less waste. It doesn’t require that they improve all their environmental aspects at once, but it requires environmental improvement programmes to be directed to those aspects of their activities, products and services that cause the biggest environmental impacts. Over time, as these environmental improvement programmes are implemented and measured as successful, new initiatives can be added.

As you would assume, implementing environmental improvement programmes involves workers throughout the business and EMAS requires the involvement of employees in the process of improving an organisation's environmental performance.

Applying for EMAS

EMAS is cross-sector; therefore any type of organisation can apply to register.

Your first contact point for support should be your Competent Body - the IEMA. It will inform you about the administrative procedures to follow and provide you with application forms and guidelines. Contact details can be found online at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/emas/tools/contacts/gb_en.htm

The IEMA will also be able to inform you about possible funding opportunities and other kinds of technical assistance that could be available. In the UK, as previously mentioned, the BPIF has gained funding for a small number of print companies to gain EMAS registration in 2012.

In addition, the IEMA might also provide you with promotional material explaining the basics of EMAS, useful for distribution to your customers, employees and suppliers.

Also get hold of the UK Accreditation Body, which is UKAS (contact details on the website link above), in order to receive a list of environmental verifiers who have accreditation in your economic sector. Contact the environmental verifier of your choice as soon as possible as they will be able to provide invaluable advice on going forward.

And there’s always the EMAS Helpdesk (details at http:// ec.europa.eu/environment/emas/ tools/contacts/helpdesk_en.htm)

Steps in the process

  • If you want to participate in EMAS you must follow a number of steps. Simply put, these are:
  • Implement an EMS that meets the requirements of BS EN ISO 14001
  • Undertake internal audits, including checks on legal compliance and environmental performance improvement
  • Prepare an Environmental Statement
  • Have the Policy, EMS and Environmental Statement independently validated by an EMAS accredited verifier
  • Submit the application with appropriate fee to the EMAS Competent Body (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment – IEMA – in the UK) using the application form which can be found at http://www.iema.net/ems/downloads
  • Make publicly available your environmental statement and promote your environmental credentials. You will then be entered onto the EMAS register.

Organisations are required to renew registration on an annual basis to maintain their place on the register. Details on the IEMA website.

Fees for EMAS registration/annual renewal

Of course, EMAS registration is not free, but it’s hardly bank busting. The 2012 fees are:

  • SME and local authorities: £714.90 for registration and £357.45 for annual renewal
  • Larger companies: £1,378.72 for registration and £714.89 for annual renewal
  • For multi sites: £1,838.29 for registration and £ 919.15 for annual renewal

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