EMAS needs greater incentives, say German users

EMAS needs greater incentives, say German users

Forthcoming revisions to the EU’s EMAS environmental management scheme should provide more incentives for firms to join and loosen some obligations, a conference organised by the German government heard last week.

Larger organisations and manufacturing firms want lower fees for environmental permits, according to survey results presented to the conference. Doing so would help make participation more economically attractive.

Germany already offers a tax break for participants, which has led to a recent “surge of interest” in it among businesses, Michael Schemmer, chair of the federal EMAS advisory board, told the event in Berlin.

The law’s latest revision, known as EMAS III, was itself intended to boost registration. But a requirement for member states to promote the scheme is vague, which has resulted in few significant incentives being established, except for a small number of countries such as Italy, Spain and Austria.

EMAS III also says that member states must educate the public about the scheme, but the language is again loose. Almost 90% of the 573 survey respondents said too few people knew about EMAS despite its relative popularity in Germany.

Respondents also want better integration with the international standard ISO 14001. ISO certification should be automatic after compliance with EMAS rules has been verified by an authorised third party, they suggest.

EMAS III added obligations to report on environmental performance indicators such as waste generation. But establishing these can be difficult, especially the biodiversity indicator. Disclosure can also lead to competitive disadvantage, said one participant.

Respondents “very often voiced” that further indicators are not needed, says the survey report. Others suggested indicators should be tailored to specific industries.

The report and conference tie into the European Commission’s review of EMAS rules, which were last updated in 2010. Legislative proposals are due by 2015.

Follow Up:

Survey report (in German) and conference programme

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