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Document 32023D2463

Commission Decision (EU) 2023/2463 of 3 November 2023 on the publication of the user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council (notified under document C(2023) 720)


OJ L, 2023/2463, 10.11.2023, ELI: (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, GA, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

In force


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Official Journal
of the European Union


Series L




of 3 November 2023

on the publication of the user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council

(notified under document C(2023) 720)

(Text with EEA relevance)


Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

Having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 and Commission Decisions 2001/681/EC and 2006/193/EC (1), and in particular Article 46(5) thereof,



The user’s guide was adopted by Commission Decision 2013/131/EU (2) and was subsequently amended by Commission Decisions (EU) 2017/2285 (3) and (EU) 2020/1802 (4). Since further amendments are to be made, Decision 2013/131/EU should be replaced in the interest of clarity.


The objective of the Union eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) is to promote continuous improvements in the environmental performance of organisations by the establishment and implementation of an environmental management system, the evaluation of the performance of such a system, the provision of information on environmental performance, an open dialogue with the public and other interested parties and the active involvement of employees.


Interested organisations should receive additional information and guidance about the steps needed to participate in EMAS. That information and guidance shall be kept up to date based on the experience gained in the operation of EMAS and in response to additional needs for guidance identified.


Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 has recently been amended as regards the reference value of the core indicators and the structured context analysis of the organisation. Those changes should be reflected in the users’ guide. In addition, the guidance on the sampling method for verification of multisite organisations should be simplified and the structure the user guide improved. Finally, additional examples should be provided in order to make the users’ guide more user-friendly and potentially increase the number of EMAS registrations,


Article 1

The user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in Union eco-management and audit scheme as set out in the Annex is hereby published.

Article 2

Decision 2013/131/EU is repealed.

Article 3

This Decision is addressed to the Member States.

Done at Brussels, 3 November 2023.

For the Commission


Member of the Commission

(1)   OJ L 342, 22.12.2009, p. 1.

(2)  Commission Decision 2013/131/EU of 4 March 2013 establishing the user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in EMAS, under Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) (notified under document C(2013) 1114) (OJ L 76, 19.3.2013, p. 1).

(3)  Commission Decision (EU) 2017/2285 of 6 December 2017 amending the user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in EMAS, under Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) (notified under document C(2017) 8072) (OJ L 328, 12.12.2017, p. 38)

(4)  Commission Decision (EU) 2020/1802 of 27 November 2020 amending the user’s guide setting out the steps needed to participate in EMAS, under Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) (notified under document C(2020) 8151) (OJ L 402, 1.12.2020, p. 51).




Introduction 8


What is EMAS? 8


EMAS costs and benefits 8


EMAS support for SMEs 11


“EMAS Easy” Method 11


Synergies with other legislation and voluntary instruments 11


Recognition of other management systems and approaches to EMAS 14


The eight steps to EMAS 14


Actors and institutions involved in the implementation and maintenance of EMAS 16

Step 1:

Plan and prepare 17


Defining the scope of EMAS registration inside and outside the EU 17


Entity to register in EMAS 18


Organisation operating on a single site or at a single location 19


Organisation operating across different sites/locations 19


Organisation for which a specific site cannot be properly defined 20


Organisations managing different sites in a dispersed area 20


Organisations controlling temporary shared spaces 21


Different organisations at a single location 22


Cluster concept 22


Management commitment to the environmental management system 23


Carrying out an environmental review 24


Determining the context of the organisation 25


Identifying interested parties and their needs and expectations 26


Identifying the applicable legal requirements and other compliance obligations relating to the environment 27


Identifying direct and indirect environmental aspects 28


Sectoral Reference Documents (SRDs) 29


Assessing the significance of environmental aspects 33


Evaluate feedback from investigation of previous incidents 35


Determination and documentation of opportunities and risks 35


Examination of existing processes, practices and procedures 36

Step 2:

Define environmental policy 36


Defining the environmental policy 36

Step 3:

Develop an environmental programme 37

Step 4:

Set up and implement an environmental management system 39


resources, tasks, responsibility and authority 40


Establish a procedure for determining compliance obligations and evaluation of compliance 40


Employee engagement, competence, training and awareness 42


Establish a procedure for internal and external communication 44


Documentation and control of documents 45


Operational planning and control 47


Emergency preparedness and response 48


Monitoring, measurement and analysis of environmental performance 49


Procedure for dealing with non-conformity and taking corrective action 49

Step 5:

Internal audit 50


Put in place an internal environmental audit procedure 50


Audit frequency 51


Activities within the scope of internal environmental auditing 51


Reporting on conclusions of the environmental audit 52


Management review 52

Step 6:

Create the environmental statement 53


Prepare the environmental statement 54


Minimum requirements for the EMAS environmental statement 54


Core environmental performance indicators 56


Other relevant environmental performance indicators 61


Local Accountability 61


Updating the environmental statement 62


Public access 62

Step 7:

External verification 62


Third party verification 63


Who is allowed to verify and validate EMAS 63


Verification by the environmental verifier 64


Frequency of verifications 65


Sampling method 67


Requirements for the application of a sampling procedure for the assessment of organisations with many sites 67


Eligibility criteria for applying the sampling method 67


Requirements for the applicant organisation 68


Criteria for exclusion of sites from the sampling procedure 68


Guidelines for the use of a sampling procedure for the assessment of multi-site organisations 69


Procedure for the application of the sampling method for multi-site organisations 69


Selection and calculation of the sample 70


Procedure in case of deviations 71


Documentation to be included in the environmental statement justifying the sample size and sampling procedure 72


Report of the environmental verifier 72


Validation of the environmental statement 73

Step 8:

Registration in the EMAS register 73


The registration process 73


Required documents for EMAS registration 75


Registration 75


Duration of the registration process 75


Suspension or deletion of an EMAS registration 76


Continuously improve environmental performance with EMAS 76


The use of the EMAS logo 77


Who can use the logo? 78


Who awards the logo? 78


Limits of logo use 79

List of figures

Figure 1

Integrative interaction of different standardized management systems 11

Figure 2

Advantages of EMAS over and above EN ISO 14001 12

Figure 3

Other advantages of EMAS 13

Figure 4

The eight phases to EMAS 14

Figure 5

Timeline for the registration process 15

Figure 6

Three examples of operations concentrated in a single site 19

Figure 7

Examples of organisations controlling different sites in dispersed area 21

Figure 8

Example of shared spaces 21

Figure 9

Example of organisation located at shared site 22

Figure 10

Examples of internal and external factors that determine the context of the organisation 26

Figure 11

Examples of interested parties and possible expectations (source: UGA-GS). 27

Figure 12

Sectors for which Sectoral Reference Documents are available 30

Figure 13

Example of method to integrate SRDs 30

Figure 14

Typical environmental aspects in the consideration of a product life cycle 32

Figure 15

Example of an evaluation matrix with the ABC analysis 35

Figure 16

Interaction of environmental review, environmental policy, environmental objectives, and targets, planned measures and environmental programme 38

Figure 17

Flowchart of training courses within the environmental management system 43

Figure 18

Procedure for handling documents within an environmental management system 46

Figure 19

Managing emergency plans 48

Figure 20

Example of the allocation of areas for the core indicators “Land use with regard to biodiversity” 58

Figure 21

EMAS main actors and governance system 76

Figure 22

EMAS logo 77

List of Tables

Table 1

“OECD Handbook on Environmental Due Diligence in Mineral and Metal Supply Chains” 31

Table 2

Examples of environmental aspects and their environmental impact 33

Table 3

Assessing environmental aspects using the example of waste 34

Table 4

Examples of the interaction between environmental objective , target and measure 39

Table 5

Example of legal compliance review 41

Table 6

Example of other environmental requirements compliance review 42

Table 7

Examples of the use of core indicators in public administration organisations 59

Table 8

Example of the use of core performance indicators in the production sector 60

Table 9

Verification frequency required under EMAS Regulation 66

Table 10

Bodies responsible for the various registrations 74


Organisations wishing to contribute to more sustainable production and consumption models in our society face the challenges of making the products and services they provide more sustainable along the whole supply chain, using resources more efficiently, and reducing their environmental and climate impacts.

The point of environmental management systems like EMAS (1) is to help organisations improve their environmental performance while also saving costs. When the EU established EMAS in 1993, the aim was to provide organisations with a management tool they could use to evaluate, report, and improve their environmental performance. EMAS supports environmental compliance by, for instance, meeting the reporting requirements for legal acts such as the Industrial Emission Directive (2), the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (3) or to support companies in carrying out environmental due diligence under the upcoming the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (4).

This guide outlines the main features of the scheme and explains what organisations need to do to take part. The aim is to make it easier for organisations to join the scheme, thereby increasing uptake. More generally, the EMAS Regulation is also designed to harmonise implementation throughout Member States and create a common legislative framework. This EMAS User Guide (5) meets the requirements laid down in Article 46(5) of the EMAS Regulation.

1.   What is EMAS?

EMAS is a tool available to any organisation, active in any economic sector within or outside the EU, which wants to:

take responsibility for its environmental and economic impact.

improve its environmental performance.

inform the public and stakeholders about that performance.

EMAS enables organisations to systematically identify and record their environmental impacts. On this basis, they can develop a strategy to improve their environmental sustainability. With EMAS’s help, a company can answer the following three questions:


what is our environmental impact today?


how can we improve our environmental performance?


how will we achieve that goal?

2.   EMAS’s costs and benefits

Implementing EMAS involves internal and external costs, such as consultancy support, human resources to implement and follow up measures, inspections, registration fees, etc. Costs and benefits vary widely, depending on such factors as organisation size, type of activities, current environmental management practices, and the country concerned. Registering with EMAS is an investment, as it generally leads to significant savings as well as reputational benefits, considering that the public is more and more demanding in terms of sustainability, leading to more profits. Studies show that organisations increase their revenue and thereby recoup implementation costs quickly, mostly within a year or two.

Overall, environmental management systems like EMAS help organisations improve resource efficiency, reduce risks, and set an example by making a public declaration of good practice.

The savings achieved outweigh the cost of implementing a scheme.

Improved environmental performance.

Indicators should show demonstrable improvement, and thus reduced environmental impact, over time.

More efficiency savings

Increased annual savings for organisations of all sizes which exceed the annual costs of maintaining EMAS.

Ensuring environmental compliance and better internal control processes

Fewer breaches of environmental law mean better relations with regulatory authorities.

Better relations with stakeholders

Increased stakeholder trust, particularly with public administration and service companies.

More market opportunities

Better accountability to existing customers and improved chances of gaining new markets. EMAS can also enable registered companies to show they have the technical means to fulfil contractual requirements for environmental management in public tenders. Organisations may encourage their suppliers to have an environmental management system in place as part of their own environmental policy. Being EMAS-registered may make business-to-business procedures easier for both parties.

Regulatory relief

Benefit from regulatory relief (6). Several Member States offer advantages to EMAS-registered organisations under national and regional environmental laws and regulations. This can mean simplified reporting obligations, fewer inspections, lower waste fees and longer periods between permit renewals.

Regulatory relief – some examples

In 2022, Spain brought in a new waste law that provides regulatory relief for EMAS-registered organisations. These are not required to submit a hazardous waste minimisation plan if they already have hazardous waste reduction targets, and this information is included in the validated environmental statement.

In Bulgaria , the Ministry of the Environment and Water reduces water use fees by 30% for EMAS-registered organisations. This regulatory relief, introduced in 2017, is a big incentive for water management companies and businesses consuming large amounts of water to register as EMAS users. So far, 2 of Bulgaria’s 24 water supply companies have implemented EMAS.

In Portugal , under General Regime of Waste Management, specific flow management entities and individual systems registered under EMAS are exempted from auditing the technical part of the activity balance

Financial incentives – some examples

In Belgium , the Service Public de Wallonie provides higher subsidies for investment in companies that are EMAS-registered.

Croatia ’s national recovery and resilience plan funds investment in green transition measures in the tourism sector. Eligible activities include upgrading hotels to EU Ecolabel and EMAS level. EMAS also counts as evidence of compliance with the ‘Do no significant harm’ principle (an incentive valid from 2022 to 2023).

In the Basque Country , EMAS-registered organisations in the construction sector are dispensed from paying a deposit required under the 2012 legal framework for the production and management of construction and demolition waste. As a result, 10% of Basque EMAS registrations are in the building sector, with registration numbers rising steadily.

In Portugal , EMAS-registered organisations benefit from a 5% reduction in the effluent discharge fee

Policy supports measures – some examples.

Bulgaria ’s 2011 national action plan for green public procurement stated that public sector bodies managing procurement procedures should include environmental criteria, including EMAS, in calls for tender at certain levels. Bulgarian municipal authorities issuing calls for tenders in the waste management sector now require EMAS or an equivalent management system. Currently, the waste management sector accounts for most registrations.

Sweden ’s Ordinance on environmental management systems in government agencies (2009:907), covering nearly 200 such agencies, encourages them to implement EMAS. Three public agencies have registered with EMAS since 2009.

Studies confirm the positive effect of such incentives (7). In some Member States, the state subsidises efforts to introduce EMAS. Information on these support measures can be obtained from the competent body in each country. A compendium of EMAS promotion and policy support in EU Member States is available online (8). The Commission also provides general information about introducing EMAS and putting it into practice. For instance, its EMAS Helpdesk provides information and tools to support implementation.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), defined in EU Recommendation 2003/361, are classed as ‘small organisations. A business is an SME if it has no more than 249 employees and generates annual sales of no more than EUR 50 million or has a balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million.

The term ‘small organisations’ also includes local authorities serving fewer than 10 000 inhabitants or other authorities employing fewer than 250 people that either have an annual budget not exceeding EUR 50 million or an annual balance sheet total of no more than EUR 43 million.

3.   EMAS support for SMEs

Small organisations (SMEs) also benefit from:

easy access to information and support programmes tailored to their needs (9);

registration fees (10) designed to encourage participation.

technical assistance measures.

4.   ‘EMAS Easy’ method

Although not mentioned in the Regulation, the ‘EMAS Easy’  (11) method should be seen as a tool for the use of small organisations. It can help them implement all EMAS requirements quickly, cheaply, and simply.

The EMAS Easy toolbox (12), which provides standardised templates, is useful for cluster projects. It enables participating organisations to ‘share’ an EMAS-qualified consultant, or to commission a joint environmental verifier for the final certification process if necessary.

Low-threshold environmental management approaches and other environmental management systems often overlap and cover EMAS requirements in parts. They can thus be used as part of a step-by-step move towards EMAS, reducing the efforts required and facilitating EMAS registration.

5.   Synergies with other legislation and voluntary instruments

EMAS complements existing standards and certificates. If an organisation is already using management systems such as ISO 14001 or ISO 9001 for quality, ISO 50001 for energy, or ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety management systems, this reduces the work needed because EMAS can build on existing management processes. This is because EMAS works on the same ‘plan–do–check–act’ principle and includes similar processes.

Figure 1

Integrative interaction of different standardised management systems (source: The Umweltbundesamt, UBA)

Image 1

EMAS goes further in terms of environmental requirements than many existing environmental management systems and schemes. As the following main features show, it is more demanding than other environmental management systems such as ISO 14001:

continuous improvement of environmental performance.

appointment of a top management representative.

the need for an environmental review.

systematic demonstration of legal compliance.

setting out environmental objectives with respect to direct and indirect aspects quantified in the mandatory six core indicators.

employee involvement.

communication, transparency and reporting through the environmental statement.

Figure 2

Advantages of EMAS over and above EN ISO 14001 (source: The Umweltbundesamt)

Image 2

EMAS also offers policy benefits such as material efficiency, lower environmental impacts, support in reducing the climate footprint on a path to achieving climate neutrality (13) achieving climate neutrality, and support in supply chain assessment. It can also include mandatory elements of sustainable corporate reporting and promoting green public procurement.

Figure 3

Other advantages of EMAS

Image 3

Under the Industrial Emissions Directive, an environmental management system is considered as the best available technique for industrial installations. Organisations that operate industrial installations can therefore benefit from EMAS in two ways. EMAS promotes ongoing improvements in the environmental performance of such installations or helps maintain high performance levels. It also supports legal compliance.

There are various synergies between EMAS and existing environmental legislation. An example is the Industrial Emissions Directive (14), which classes EMAS as the best available technique (15) and grants regulatory relief to organisations participating in EMAS. Other areas where EMAS complements existing legislation are waste management, eco-design of products and services, energy efficiency, and emissions trading.

EMAS’ environmental statement and the information generated within an environmental management system can also serve as primary inputs for sustainability reporting. EMAS can be used to meet voluntary reporting standards, such as those from the Global Reporting Initiative (16) or legal requirements, such as those of the European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (17). Moreover, EMAS’ management approach is close to voluntary instruments and forthcoming legislation designed to avoid and reduce adverse impacts in global value chains – known as due diligence obligations (18). EMAS provides a suitable framework for carrying out environmental due diligence and can serve as a basis for broader sustainability management in the value chain.

6.   Recognition of other management systems and approaches to EMAS - Article 45 of the EMAS Regulation

Under the EMAS Regulation, the European Commission can recognise existing environmental management systems or parts of them as equivalent to the relevant requirements under the EMAS Regulation. Official recognition of some or all parts of these systems can ease an organisation's transition to EMAS.

The procedure is described below.


Member States send the Commission a written request for the recognition of an environmental management system or parts of it.


The request must analyse and specify relevant parts of that system and those elements of it that correspond to EMAS. Evidence of equivalence to EMAS must be provided.


The Commission submits the proposal to the EMAS Committee (set up under Article 49 of the Regulation).


The EU's Official Journal publishes details of the recognised environmental management system, or parts of it, after the Committee has approved them.

There is no need for organisations that have implemented a recognised environmental management system or parts of one to have components that are already recognised revalidated when switching to EMAS. Organisations that are in the process of implementing EMAS can publicly consult the relevant Commission recognition decision or contact their competent body to ask whether an environmental management approach or system they already apply is a recognised system (19).

So far, the Commission has issued two decisions recognising that parts of other environmental management systems are equivalent to EMAS: Eco-Lighthouse, Norway (20) and Eco-profit, Austria (21).

7.   The eight steps to EMAS

The chapters that follow describe what preparations an organisation needs to make before introducing EMAS, from planning to registration (see Figure 4 below) and explain the procedure in more detail.

Figure 4

The eight steps to EMAS

Image 4

Before introducing EMAS, an organisation must bear in mind the need for time, knowledge, experts, and financial resources. Its management procedures may be tested, altered, or replaced during the process. Employees will need to be trained, audits prepared, and environmental statements drafted. The organisation will also need to be audited by an external environmental verifier.

More resources will be needed, notably for the following activities:

external consulting services to help introduce an environmental management system in line with EMAS (if the organisation lacks the necessary skills and resources).

in-house staff.

training employees.

environmental verification (external audit) by an environmental verifier.

sending the information required to the competent body for registration in the EMAS register.

registration fees, if applicable.

possible investments, including in environmentally friendly technologies, products, services, and procurement.

To reduce effort and costs, organisations should check before starting whether:

regulatory relief is applicable (22);

any free templates, tools (23) or guidelines are available.

there are any funding opportunities at Member State or EU level.

there is any possibility of simplifying the assessment and/or registration process (24) (e.g., by using group registration or multi-site registration under the conditions set out in Chapter 7.2.).

On average, it takes about 1 year from the beginning of the process until the competent body adds the organisation to the EMAS register. The process may be shorter for smaller organisations, but it can be lengthy for large corporations, given the complex coordination steps involved. The project plan (Figure 5) shows examples of the time frame generally required for the various steps to achieve validation/registration as effectively and reliably as possible.

Figure 5

Timeline for the registration process

Image 5

Before beginning to plan the introduction of EMAS, organisations should first assess which requirements, offers and possibilities are applicable and which fit their particular situation.

Case studies for different sectors are available on the EU EMAS Helpdesk website (25). Some regional governments and organisations have also developed their own EMAS implementation tools. For example, the EMAS Club in Catalonia (26) and the Bavarian Environment Ministry (Germany) (27) have both developed sets of tools. To find out more, it could be useful to contact the competent bodies in the countries where the organisations concerned are based.

8.   Actors and institutions involved in implementing and maintaining EMAS

Environmental verifier  (28)

The environmental verifier as referred to in Article 2 (20) of the EMAS Regulation is:

a conformity assessment body as defined in Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 or any association or group of such bodies, which has obtained accreditation in accordance with this Regulation; or

a natural or legal person or any association or group of such persons that has been granted accreditation by Member States according to their procedures and relevant institutions, in accordance with the EMAS Regulation.

Environmental verifiers check whether an organisation's environmental review, environmental policy, environmental management system, environmental audit procedures and their implementation meet the requirements of the EMAS Regulation. They also attest that the information and data in the environmental statement and any updates to that statement are reliable, credible, and accurate. Environmental verifiers are subject to monitoring by the accreditation or licensing bodies.

Information on accredited/licensed environmental verifiers can be obtained from the EMAS competent bodies or the EMAS accreditation or licensing body in the EU country where the organisation is based. Information on suitable environmental verifiers from Member States other than the organisation's is available through the EU EMAS register (29).

Competent bodies  (30)

Competent bodies are designated by the Member States. As independent and neutral bodies, they are usually responsible for registering organisations based in their Member State within the EU but may also be responsible for registering organisations based outside the EU. They also monitor the registration and renewal of registration, including the suspension or deletion of registrations. The location of the organisation’s headquarters or management centre usually determines which competent body is to be contacted for registration (for more details, see Chapter 7.1, Third-party verification).

Enforcement authority

Enforcement authorities are bodies designated by Member States to monitor compliance with the applicable environmental legislation and, where necessary, to take measures to enforce that legislation. These authorities’ responsibilities are based on national regulations in the country concerned for the implementation of environmental legislation.

A step-by-step guide to EMAS

Step 1:   Plan and prepare

1.1.    Defining the scope of EMAS registration inside and outside the EU – Annex II A.4.3 to the EMAS Regulation

Each organisation defines and documents the scope of its environmental management system. As regards the scope of the registration, the organisation must consider:

external and internal issues.

compliance obligations.

its organisational units, functions, and physical boundaries.

its activities, products, and services.

its authority and ability to exercise control and influence.

All activities, products and services associated with the site to be registered (or sites for multi-site registration) must be included within the scope of the environmental management system.

EMAS is applicable inside and outside the EU (‘global EMAS’) to sites in various EU and non-EU countries that can be included in the scope of registration. Organisations located outside the EU, with sites exclusively outside the EU, can also register with EMAS.

An organisation with a number of sites in one or more Member States or in non-EU countries can apply for corporate registration of all or some of these sites (Article 3(2) of the EMAS Regulation). In such a case, the organisation must contact the environmental verifier(s) and the relevant competent body early on to clarify any language issues related to the documentation required for registration.

For specific questions on Global EMAS, please consult Commission Decision 2011/832/EU of 7 December 2011 concerning a guide on EU corporate registration, third country and global registration under Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 (31).

Guiding questions to prepare and plan EMAS registration.

Is the organisation a small organisation as defined in the introduction to this user guide?

How many sites belong to the organisation where EMAS is to be introduced?

Which economic sector does the organisation belong to?

Are there any support programmes or other forms of support available in the Member State or region concerned, or even at local level?

Is there an industry-specific reference document for the sector to which the organisation belongs? (See Chapter 1.4.5. for more information.)

What other management systems or environmental management approaches are already being implemented within the organisation?

Are these environmental management approaches or systems already recognised as a sub-step on the way to EMAS?

Are there any other reporting requirements with which the organisation voluntarily complies or wishes to comply, or to which it is subject to under legal requirements that could be combined with EMAS reporting?

Does the organisation have many comparable sites where EMAS is to be implemented?

If the organisation has different sites in one or more Member States or in non-EU countries, does it want to implement EMAS at these sites and register them under a single registration number?

Which environmental verifier is eligible to assess its activity?

Which competent body is responsible for the organisation?

Is there an EMAS implementation cluster in the organisation's local or regional environment that it could join?

Who – within the organisation’s senior management – should be responsible for implementing EMAS?

If the organisation is a small organisation, is the application of the ‘EMAS Easy’ method an option?

Which member of staff should be involved as environmental management representative? Are there any other representatives for specific areas (waste, emissions control, safety, etc.) within the organisation to whom this task could be entrusted?

Should there be an environmental team to support the environmental management representative? If so, which members of staff should be on the team? Can other existing structures within the organisation be used for this purpose?

What resources (financial, technical) are available or need to be made available to successfully implement and maintain EMAS?

1.2.    Entity to register in EMAS – Article 2(21) and 2(22) of the EMAS Regulation

According to the EMAS Regulation:

‘Organisation’ means a company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority, or institution, located inside or outside the EU, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public, or private, which has its own functions and administration.

‘Site’ means a distinct geographic location under the management control of an organisation covering activities, products, and services, including all infrastructure, equipment, and materials; a site is the smallest entity to be considered for registration.

‘Corporate registration’ means a single registration of all or some sites of an organisation with sites located in one or more Member States or non-EU countries.

Organisations must correctly define the entity to be registered, which will implement EMAS. It is vital that it strengthen relationships with stakeholders through increased transparency and accountability. Unlike other environmental management systems, EMAS can only be applied to entire sites, not parts of a site. A single site is therefore the smallest entity which an organisation can register in EMAS.

From the outset, participants in EMAS should bear in mind that environmental verifiers, and where appropriate, competent bodies, have a say in which entities must be registered (see Article 25(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009). Equally, all participants are required to produce an environmental statement, which must have a clear and unambiguous description of the organisation or site being registered under EMAS and a summary of its activities, products, and services and its relationship with any parent organisation (see Annex IV, point B(a) to Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009).

These requirements ensure organisations have a good understanding of the environmental factors that have significant environmental impacts at each of their sites. Participants are therefore advised to have clear and reasoned justifications for each site they have selected for registration. This will also prepare them for the requirements of the environmental statement and any questions, notably from verifiers and competent bodies, but also from other interested parties. The competent body may refuse registration if the entity chosen for registration does not correspond to the definitions provided in Article 2(22) of Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009. Organisations should therefore consult competent bodies from the outset of the EMAS implementation process.

If an organisation considers registering only one or several sites separately, its decision should be based on the following principles. First, separate registration should be carefully considered. An organisation must be able to prove its ability to monitor and carry out checks on the significant environmental aspects of the site and prove that the entity it intends to register has not been intentionally separated from other poorly performing sites. Second, communication with the public is a key element of EMAS. As a best practice, an organisation should inform the public clearly and comprehensibly in its environmental statement about why it has chosen to separate some sites from registration.

1.2.1.    Organisations operating on a single site or at a single location.

The simplest case for EMAS registration is when the organisation’s operations take place at a single site. A single site usually refers to a situation in which a number of buildings and areas belonging to the organisation being assessed and registered could be surrounded by a fence.

Figure 6

Three examples of operations concentrated on a single site.

Image 6

In most cases, it is a simple matter to determine what constitutes a site and where its boundaries lie. For example:

a factory with all the necessary facilities to carry out its activities (warehousing, offices, adjacent storage areas for raw materials and waste, sewage treatment plant, parking area, etc.) located in the same place (Figure 6, example 1); and

a tourist resort that includes a hotel building, gardens, swimming pool areas, restaurant, technical premises, etc.

An organisation operating on just one site is the simplest case because the management and the geographic location dovetail. It is irrelevant whether individual buildings have different postal addresses because a site could have two entrances, for example, one to access the offices and one for lorries to drive in from another street (Figure 6, example 2). Sometimes, public traffic routes run between the buildings and areas or other buildings belonging to other organisations located in between. This would mean that the site could not be enclosed within a single fence, but not that an organisation cannot be considered a site. An organisation with production activities and a storage building nearby non-contiguous area are also considered to form a single site (Figure 6, example 3).

1.2.2.    Organisation operating across different sites/locations.

According to the EMAS Regulation, participants who have operations on several sites can choose to individually register sites, or to register as ‘an organisation’ (defined in Article 2(21) and 2(22)). Either way, the organisation or site will be required to demonstrate continuous improvement in its performance on significant aspects and impacts in line with the organisation’s environmental statement, programme, and targets. The organisation will also have to clarify and justify its choice of a site or combination of sites. As a good practice, organisations seeking registration under EMAS, whether in the private or public sector, should also be prepared to clarify and justify their intentions regarding as yet unregistered sites to their stakeholders.

Examples of sectors:


travel agencies

retail chains


a.   With the same or similar products or services

Organisations often operate across several geographical sites/locations, but with the same or similar products or services and common management procedures. Banks, travel agencies, retail chains and consultants are examples. In such cases, activities at the various sites have similar environmental aspects and impacts, are subject to a similar environmental management system, and operate within the same structures. Examples include branches, business offices, and operational and workshop installations.

The organisation may wish to have these sites validated together, either by way of a corporate registration or as a single site. To have a corporate registration, an organisation should be able to show the verifier that its environmental management procedures and policy are applied consistently at all locations. Such organisations often use the same management procedures, such as a shared environmental management handbook, at all locations/sites. If an organisation can demonstrate that it has full management control over all the sites it wishes to register and that they abide by the same procedures, verification can be less burdensome and may not need to be carried out at all sites. This is referred to as the ‘sampling technique’, and more information is available in Step 7.2. Sampling method.

b.   With different products or services

If an organisation operates across several locations, with different management and control systems, along with different environmental aspects and impacts, then the sampling technique cannot be applied for verification, as each site has different operating procedures and impacts. The organisation chooses whether to register each site separately or under a single registration number.

In any case, all sites must be individually verified, and the environmental data gathered reported separately in the environmental statement. An organisation can start by registering some single sites and subsequently unify them under one registration number as one organisation.

1.2.3.    Organisation for which a specific site cannot be properly defined.

Certain organisations, such as those in the service distribution, delivery services, telecommunications, transport, and waste collection sectors, might struggle to define a specific site or location for their activities. Indeed, these types of activities may or may not have offices and warehouses, and their infrastructure may be dispersed. This applies to heat, water, gas, electricity distribution or telecommunication companies, or means (vehicles, waste containers, antennas, cash machines, etc.), as in the case of transport, telecommunications, or waste collection.

Examples of sectors:

service distribution (heat, water, gas, electricity, etc.)



waste collection

For organisations for which a site cannot easily be determined, it is particularly important in the event of any doubt that both the organisations and verifiers consult the relevant competent body to see whether the chosen entity is suitable for registration in line with the principles of EMAS. These organisations must set out their operations and infrastructure clearly, integrate them comprehensively in their management system, and describe them precisely in their environmental statement. In such organisations, it is important that the responsibilities for significant environmental aspects are clearly defined and that the verifier has evidence that the organisation has a proper procedure in place to check such aspects.

1.2.4.    Organisations managing different sites in a dispersed area.

There are cases in which an organisation, despite controlling different facilities in a defined area, cannot operate each site separately, and in such situations the environmental impacts of these are linked. For example, an organisation producing electricity through wind turbines that are located in the same area, (no matter how big that area is). An organisation producing electricity from solar panels will face a similar situation (Figure 7).

Another possible combination could be that the same organisation generates electricity both through wind turbines and solar panels located in different places (different production activities and sites). Lastly, solar panels and wind turbines could be located together in the same area.

Similarly, a hydroelectric power plant that has several structures and infrastructures located along the course of a river, but which are nevertheless functional for the primary purpose, could be considered as a whole.

In this case, the separate facilities could be considered as a single organisation for registration under EMAS or they can be registered together under a corporate registration.

Figure 7

Examples of organisations controlling different sites in dispersed area.

Image 7

1.2.5.    Organisations controlling temporary shared spaces.

There are new ways of using spaces, and it is now common for several organisations to share a co-working space or a ‘ghost’ kitchen, for example. In these cases, it must be clear whether EMAS will be implemented at co-working level (the whole site), so the space will register, or whether only some of the activities hosted in these spaces will be implementing EMAS.

Figure 8

Examples of shared spaces

Image 8

Ghost kitchens are kitchen spaces rented out for several catering activities, whether simultaneously or at different times. In this case, the site is the kitchen, regardless of the users that may come and go.

If organisations perform operations at locations that they do not own for set periods of time, the verifier will check the organisation’s management system and its environmental performance at selected temporary sites that are considered representative of the organisation’s environmental management capability.

The verifier applies auditing sampling techniques that meet good practice standards when checking the effectiveness of procedures at a chosen facility. The organisation has to demonstrate that it has adopted procedures and technologies appropriate to the specific sites where it has to operate temporarily.

Examples of sectors:

construction companies

cleaning companies

service providers


Temporary sites are thus spot-checked as part of the verification process. Their activities are registered, not just their location.

1.2.6.    Different organisations at a single location

An organisation, or part of an organisation, may occupy part of a building or facility, as in Figure 9. In this case, the site is the floor or space the organisation occupies, although it may also share spaces with other organisations, such as car parks. This can apply both to unrelated activities located in the same building and to activities that may have links with each other.

In this case, each organisation, with its management and control system, needs to be registered separately.

Figure 9

Example of organisation located at shared site.

Image 9

1.2.7.    Cluster concept – Article 37 of the EMAS Regulation

A ‘cluster’ is a way of implementing EMAS as a group, useful for organisations in the same sector of activity or located in the same geographical area. Organisations from different sectors (business, administration, etc.) can also form clusters1. These organisations can then collaborate on the implementation process and proceed to register individually.

To minimise entry barriers for small organisations wishing to introduce EMAS, local or regional administrations in some Member States may organise advisory and support services in ‘clusters. They can either do this alone or in cooperation with chambers of industry and commerce, industry associations and other bodies.

Forming clusters is a cost-effective approach focused on shared learning. Participants learn the basic concepts of EMAS at workshops, each of which covers specific EMAS topics, with practical examples. Participants also benefit from sharing their best practices and experiences, thereby motivating one another. Speakers on special topics run workshops as a knowledge platform.

Each organisation from the cluster is registered separately.

Example of a cluster: the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment subsidises the initial introduction of environmental management schemes, such as EMAS, including validation, certification, and external auditing. This subsidy is only available to organisations that take part in a project group (5-15 participants), organised by a project sponsor. Users thus save on consulting costs and benefit from networking and support from other participants.

1.3.    Management commitment to the environmental management system – Annex II A.5.1, 5.3, B.2 (32)

By registering with EMAS, the highest level of management commits itself to providing leadership and accountability in environmental management and to promoting continuous improvement in environmental performance. How can top management best achieve this? It should consider fundamental strategic questions, such as:

how does the business model relate to environmental protection issues?

how can environmental management considerations be meaningfully integrated into business operations and how can synergies be created?

which areas of environmental management implementation need to take place at management level?

where is delegation necessary and useful?

The EMAS Regulation uses the term ‘top management’ to refer to the most senior management body within organisations, responsible for defining the company's objectives and taking the necessary decisions.

It is important to clearly define who is responsible for each task.

Top management must appoint one or more specific top management representatives, who have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and the authority, independent of their other responsibilities. This is to ensure that the environmental management system to be introduced or implemented meets the requirements of the EMAS Regulation in full and functions at all times. The environmental management representative may also be a member of top management itself and possibly have some previous experience in environmental management.

In organisations with a uniform, centrally controlled environmental management system and without significant differences between sites, only one person needs to be designated for all sites.

In organisations where sites differ significantly, operate independently to a large extent, or are located in different countries, more than one person should be designated.

These are simply guidelines for organisations, as each case should be considered on its own merits. Should any doubt arise, it is advisable to designate additional people and clearly define their different responsibilities.

Management and staff need to be notified of the role, responsibilities, and competencies of this top management representative. The top management representative will have clearly specified roles, responsibilities, and authority to:

ensure that an environmental management system is established, implemented, and maintained in line with the requirements of the EMAS Regulation.

report to top management on the performance of the environmental management system, informing them of its strengths and weaknesses and any necessary improvements.

ensure that compliance with other requirements, such as waste legislation, in which they may lack the necessary knowledge, is checked by other internal or external people.

Small organisations, in particular, usually combine these roles. For an environmental management system to work effectively, management representatives must have sufficient authority. Ideally, they should be part of the company's management (or at least work closely with it), be independent and have the trust of managers and staff. They coordinate the environmental management process and are the point of contact for questions from both the workforce and top management, as well as third parties. They can be supported by an ‘EMAS team’. If possible, members of this team should come from all relevant areas of the organisation, such as production, facility management, sales, or procurement, and should have the broadest possible environmental expertise (e.g., emissions control or waste management officer).

It is also worth making use of existing structures. For example, the company's occupational safety committee or quality management system can be expanded to include or integrate EMAS topics. The EMAS team could conduct the environmental audit of the organisation, but also contribute knowledge, experience and the resulting proposals for design and improvement in all further steps.

The EMAS Regulation defines ‘environmental review’ as an ‘initial comprehensive analysis of environmental aspects, environmental impacts and environmental performance related to an organisation’s activities, products and services.’ 1

1.4.    Carrying out an environmental review – Article 4(1a), Annex I, Annex II B.3 to the EMAS Regulation (33)

The first step in implementing EMAS is to conduct a thorough assessment of an organisation's internal structure and activities. The aim is to identify environmental aspects (defined as ‘an element of an organisation’s activities, products or services that has or can have an impact on the environment’) (34) associated with the organisation’s environmental impact. This assessment will serve as a starting point for setting up a formal environmental management system.

The environmental review covers the following areas, described in depth below:


determining the organisation’s context.


identifying interested parties and their needs and expectations.


identifying the applicable legal requirements relating to the environment.


identifying all direct and indirect environmental aspects.


assessing the significance of environmental aspects.


assessing previous incidents.


determining opportunities and risks.


examining existing processes, practices, and procedures.

The organisation should remember that it will have to disclose the environmental aspects it identifies, along with the results of their evaluation, to external stakeholders and this exercise constitutes its first systematic and documented inventory of these elements.

The initial environmental review described in Annex I should not be confused with the management review described in Annex II No 9.3 or with the internal audit described in Annex II No 9.2, in conjunction with Annex III. Annexes II and III concern measures to be carried out regularly once the environmental management system is in place.

The environmental review is an important part of implementing an environmental management system, and organisations must establish procedures to ensure that the environmental aspects identified in the initial environmental review are appropriately followed up. Environmental aspects and related environmental pressures may change, as may the activities of the organisation itself. If substantial changes occur in the organisation, the environmental review will need to be updated/completed in accordance with Article 8 (35), at the latest during the internal audits. An organisation should also keep track of new developments, practices or research findings that may help with reassessing the significance of environmental aspects and the need for a new environmental assessment in the event of a significant change in its operations.

The initial environmental review described in Annex I should not be confused with the management review described in Annex II No 9.3 or with the internal audit described in Annex II No 9.2, in conjunction with Annex III. Annexes II and III deal with measures to be carried out regularly once the environmental management system is established.

1.4.1.    Determining the context of the organisation – Annex I No.1, Annex II A.4.1 to the EMAS Regulation

The organisation needs to identify the internal and external factors that may affect the introduction of the environmental management system, whether positively or negatively.

Key questions

Which issues are strategically relevant, and how do they affect the set-up and success of environmental management? How significant are external and internal factors, particularly as regards their positive or negative impacts?

Which factors, in particular environmental conditions, could influence the organisation or be influenced by it?

Determining the context of an organisation provides the content-related starting point for environmental management and its integration in strategic business planning. It may also be useful for sustainability topics beyond the environment. Relevant environmental conditions must be considered, such as climate, air or water quality, use of resources, and biodiversity. Other external conditions (cultural, social, political, legal, regulatory, financial, technological, competitive, etc.) may be considered. Internal conditions, such as activities, products and services, strategic direction, culture, and capacity, should also be scrutinised, as shown in Figure 10 below.

In determining the context, the environmental top management representative should draw on the expertise of the EMAS team, if one already exists, and of other relevant departments, to identify these influencing factors.

Figure 10

Examples of internal and external factors that determine the context of the organisation.