Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a premium management instrument developed by the European Commission for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report, and improve their environmental performance


Participation in EMAS

Which organisations can participate in EMAS?

Participation in the scheme is open to organisations operating in all economic sectors. EMAS identifies different types of economic activity areas by using the ‘Statistical Classification of Economic Activity (NACE) Codes’.


What is the geographical scope of EMAS?

The EMAS Regulation applies to all 27 EU Member States, the three European Economic Area Member States (i.e. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and European Union Accession Countries.

With the latest revision of EMAS in 2010 “EMAS Global” was added, meaning that the scheme is also open to non-European organisations and European organisations operating in third countries (Articles 1 and 11 of EMAS Regulation).

National Competent Bodies are responsible for the registration of EMAS organisations and can also opt to offer the registration of organisations located outside the Community. For more information on EMAS Global and for a list of Member States offering this type of registration, please visit the page here.


What is the impact of Brexit for organisations located in the UK?

The European Commission has published a notice on the consequences of Brexit in the field of EMAS, aimed at preparing citizens and stakeholders, for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. You can find this document below.

What is the definition of an "organisation"?

According to Article 2(21) of EMAS, ‘organisation’ means a company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution located inside or outside the Community, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, which has its own functions and administration.


What is the definition of "small organisations"?

According to Article 2(28) of EMAS, "small organisations" means:

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (mainly companies with fewer than 250 employees) as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; or

Local authorities governing fewer than 10,000 inhabitants or other public authorities employing fewer than 250 persons and having an annual budget not exceeding EUR 50 million, or an annual balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43 million, including all of the following:

(i) government or other public administrations, or public advisory bodies at national, regional or local level;

(ii) natural or legal persons performing public administrative functions under national law, including specific duties, activities or services in relation to the environment; and

(iii) natural or legal persons having public responsibilities or functions, or providing public services, relating to the environment under the control of a body or person referred to in point (b).


What is the difference between a site and an organisation?

In most cases, a site is best understood as a production facility of an organisation or company. Hence, one organisation can have more than one site that is EMAS-registered.

Following the official definition, ‘site’ means, according to Article 2(22) of EMAS, a distinct geographical 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.


How can an organisation located in several countries register with EMAS?

According to Article 3(2) of EMAS, organisations with sites located in more than one Member State may apply for one single corporate registration of all or some of those sites. Application for a single corporate registration will be made to a Competent Body of the EU Member State where the organisation’s headquarters or management centre is located. Find out more on our page on EMAS Global.


How can an organisation with multiple sites register with EMAS?

Organisations of selected sectors with multiple sites can benefit from the multisite registration procedure. See Annex I " Economic sectors in which the use of a sampling method can be allowed" Table 9 and 10 of the EMAS User’s Guide for the selected sectors. In the past, it was necessary for an organisation to have all its sites audited and verified every three years, which could be time-consuming and costly for large organisations. The multisite registration procedure was introduced in 2017 to alleviate this burden while maintaining the reliability of the scheme. Large organisations can now register all their sites at the same time and have them audited on a sample basis. Criteria to select the sample of sites are described in the EMAS User’s Guide. The EMAS Helpdesk has also prepared a factsheet to summarise the process.

By registering several of your sites at the same time, you can set up an ambitious environmental strategy for your organisation. You can maximise the benefits of EMAS by adopting clear measures at your different sites in order to improve their environmental performance and increase the credibility of your commitment to sustainability.


Can organisations apply jointly to EMAS?

Organisations interested in joining EMAS are encouraged to prepare their registration with other organisations. This enables them to engage in exchanges about difficulties and solutions and mutualise some costs - for example for a coach. Some regions and Member States support such projects. In Catalonia for example, the EMAS Club and the Municipality of Barcelona guided a group of SMEs to develop tools to implement EMAS and adapt them to their needs. Similarly, the Portuguese EMAS Competent Body has been collaborating with a university since 2006 to provide step-by-step support to SMEs in some sectors, and the Italian Competent Body recognises EMAS registration in “cluster” projects. Although each organisation is encouraged to register separately, the cluster itself, working together to implement EMAS, receives a certificate of recognition from the Competent Body.

Contact your Competent Body to find out if you could benefit from such support programmes.

EMAS for Public Authorities

What are the benefits of EMAS for public authorities?

EMAS is a tool to help organisations assess and improve their environmental performance; it thereby enables public authorities to reduce environmental risks. It also contributes to achieving local and national environmental targets in areas including climate change, energy efficiency and the circular economy. A presentation of EMAS for public authorities is available here. If you are a local, regional or national authority, we invite you to use this presentation to identify how you can use EMAS to your advantage. 


Why should a public authority register with EMAS

Public authorities play an important role in promoting environmental consciousness and sustainable development. For instance, local authorities are key players in local economies, as they have a broad range of responsibilities: for schools, waste disposal, road maintenance, the fire service and much more. As the level of government closest to citizens, local authorities exert a significant influence on the environmental practices of the general public. Local authorities can set an example by improving their own environmental performance through energy savings. They can also exert influence through green public procurement. EMAS can be used by public sector purchasers wishing to promote a greener purchasing policy.


Is the European Commission EMAS-registered?

On 7 September 2001, the European Commission adopted a Decision (C (2001)/2591) whereby it politically engaged in a process of applying the EMAS Regulation to its activities. The first phase of this Decision was a pilot project where EMAS was implemented by several key services. After its successful conclusion, the Commission decided on 23 September 2009 to extend the implementation of the EMAS scheme to all its activities and buildings on its Brussels and Luxemburg sites. By adopting this Decision, the Commission aims to achieve better environmental management of its resources

For more information on EMAS in the European Commission and in other European Institutions, please visit our dedicated page here.


Where can I find a list of EMAS-registered organisations in the public sector?

A list of EMAS-registered organisations in the public administration sector can be found in the EU EMAS register. You can directly access the database of EMAS-registered organisations and define any query you would like to use.

If you are a public organisation considering joining EMAS, we recommend that you contact other public sector organisations that have implemented the scheme. In addition, feel free to contact your national Competent Body who might be able to support you.


What is the relationship between EMAS and green public procurement?

Green procurement in the public sector has a twofold role:

  • First, suppliers need to comply with the organisation's environmental policy because procurement policies and procedures are part of its indirect impact. This is valid for any EMAS organisation.
  • Second, procurement policies play an important role in the promotion and growth of the scheme. Green public procurement helps to increase organisations' participation in the scheme by turning EMAS into a competitive advantage. And this is where public administrations should set an example.

Community law offers numerous possibilities for public purchasers who wish to integrate environmental considerations into public procurement procedures. The European Commission has published a guide, the ‘Buying Green! Handbook’, which contains best practice and guidance on green procurement.