Differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system

There are a number of differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system. These include both technical and non-technical factors.

difference EMAS ISO 14001

There are a number of differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system.  These include both technical and non-technical factors.

Environmental management systems:

To understand the differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system we first need to know what an environmental management system (EMS) is.

Essentially an EMS is put in place by a business wanting to improve their environmental performance.  It is one way in which a business can prove their green credentials to their stakeholders, consumers and governments.

The EMAS and ISO 14001 system is a strategic, structured approach to a business’ environmental commitment.  An EMS will:

  • Improve environmental performance
  • Manage environmental policies
  • Address the environmental impacts of a business, its products and services
  • Allocate resources to environmental concerns
  • Evaluate current environmental policies
  • Continually improve the EMS

Having said this, there are differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system, which we will look at in detail below.

Differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system:

The differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system can be split into two subjects.  Technical and non-technical.  We will look at the non-technical differences first.

Non-technical differences:

The ISO 14001 system was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) whereas EMAS was created by the European Committee for Worldwide Standardisation (CEN).

ISO 14001 allows all businesses and business sites to participate in the certification.  But EMAS is only available to specific sites of a business.

Finally, although the ISO 14001 system is globally recognised, EMAS is only recognised in Europe.

Technical differences:

There are a number of technical differences between EMAS and the ISO 14001 system.  The first of which is that EMAS specifically requires that an initial environmental review be conducted before it can be implemented.

EMAS also requires that a verified public statement of the site’s environmental performance is available, including the environmental policy, programme and EMS.  This differs from the ISO 14001 system in that only the environmental policy is required to be publicly available.

Under EMAS, the control over contractors and suppliers is much tighter than in ISO 14001.  ISO 14001 only requires that procedures be communicated to these people.

A big difference in the systems is the subject of audits.  ISO 14001 does require that audits have to be carried out.  However, there is no specified frequency, and also the methodology of an audit is not laid out as it is in EMAS.

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