What exactly has been revised? In order to include the requirements of the revised ISO 14001 in the EMAS regulation, Annexes I and II were firstly amended. In addition, further amendments were made to Annexes III and IV for the purposes of system practicality and user friendliness. There will also be changes to the EMAS user guide which regulate the introduction of a multi-site procedure for companies with several locations.
Annex I, which sets out the requirements for the environmental assessment, has been extended by those topics introduced through the new ISO 14001:2015; in particular (i) Determination of the context of the organization, (ii) Recording the interested parties and their requirements and expectations and (iii) Risks and opportunities as well as (iv) Greater consideration given to indirect environmental aspects during the life cycle. This makes it clear that during the environmental assessment these topics are, at all events, to be taken into account. However, nothing has changed with regard to their methodology and procedure.
In Annex II, Columns A and B have been revised. In Column A the standard text in accordance with ISO 14001:2004 has been replaced by the standard text of ISO 14001:2015 (Section 4 to 10), and in Column B the requirements exceeding ISO 14001 have been adapted. The obligation to appoint a management representative, which is not required under ISO 14001:2015, is maintained under EMAS. In future, the legal conformity of an organization will also be a precondition for EMAS registration and the environmental performance improvement will be the main focus of environmental management.
Annex III, which determines the requirements for regular environmental audits, has also been supplemented by the voluntary obligations (as part of the binding obligations). It also requires now more information on the question as to how the targets can be reached as well as compliance with obligations and measures taken in this context. Overall, this puts a stronger emphasis on reporting to the management within the framework of the environmental audit.
The revisions to Annex IV are currently in their final stage. These will in particular serve the purpose of increasing the flexibility in reporting and putting the reporting focus on significant environmental aspects and impacts. This should facilitate the use of the environmental statement for other requirements (e.g. reporting obligations). The key changes are:
- There is now an explicit mention of the option to include further environmental information in the environmental statement that goes beyond the requirements of the current Annex IV. This information will then also be validated by the environmental auditor.
- The environmental statement can be integrated – and this is now also clearly regulated in Annex IV! – in other reports (e.g. sustainability report). The environmental statement must be clearly identifiable.
- The set of core indicators has been revised. In future, the present B number can be freely chosen with certain specifications (representativeness, traceability, industry standard, comparability of at least 3 years) taken into account. In addition, the core indicators of biodiversity, energy and emissions have been revised. The present indicator for biodiversity has been transferred into “area use in relation to biodiversity” and is composed of total area consumption, sealed surface area, and near-natural area both on-site and away from the site. Newly introduced is the requirement to also illustrate the developments of important indirect environmental aspects using the core indicators or other appropriate indicators. In so far as quantification is not possible, then qualitative reporting is required.
- The language arrangements with regard to the environmental statement for corporate registrations have been revised. For example, in coordination with the registration authority for the environmental statement a reporting language other than the official language can be chosen for the registration. However, it must be ensured that information is available on individual sites in the language of the respective country.
When is the publication date of the revised EMAS regulation and what deadlines are to be observed?
Publication of the annexes is expected by September 2017 and possibly in two steps (first Annexes I to III, then Annex IV). The new regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication date. Auditing can then be conducted in accordance with the amended EMAS regulation. As regards content, EMAS organizations can already switch their environmental management system to the new ISO 14001:2015.
The transitional periods for adaptation of the environmental management system to the new EMAS regulation are based on those of the ISO 14001:2015, according to which the changeover is to be carried out by 14.9.2018. If a (re-)validation is planned before 14 March 2018, the date can be extended by 6 months in agreement with the environmental auditor and the authority responsible.