Project - EMAS in Austria
What is EMAS?
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme establishes a voluntary environmental management scheme, based on harmonised lines and principles throughout the European Union, open to companies in the industrial sector operating in the European Union and the European Economic Area. The overall objective of the scheme is to promote continuous environmental performance improvements of industrial activities by committing sites to evaluate and improve their environmental performance and provide relevant information to the public. The Regulation came into force in July 1993, and has been open for participation by companies since April 1995.
In a first step, an initial environmental review is undertaken. In the light of this review and the company's environmental policy an environmental programme and environmental management system is established for the site. On completion of the initial environmental review and subsequent audits or audit cycles a public environmental statement is produced. The public environmental statement, and its validation by accredited environmental verifiers, is fundamental to the Eco-management and audit scheme.
ISEP (International Society for Environmental Protection) has profound experience in the compilation and structuring of environmental information and in the conception and implementation of web-based information systems.
When searching relevant Austrian `EMAS sites` it turned out that most of the data had a static presentation form without database management, and the information on companies and their environmental management systems were considered to be incomplete. Moreover, the results of the evaluation procedures, the Public Environmental Statement is mostly not available on the Internet.
Based on this knowledge, ISEP performed in April 2000 a survey among all companies in Austria who had been submitted to EMAS, inquiring their interest in a common web-based information system for the public and an Internet discussion forum on EMAS. The results of this survey encouraged ISEP to start the Website www.emas.at
ISEP identified a need for reliable, extensive information on the reviewed companies. An easy-to-handle search system including search criteria and a structure according to regions, branches (NACE code), and company size. Only a combination of these criteria offers satisfactory search result to the user. A transparent web-presentation of EMAS companies should include at least the following data:
- Public Environmental Statement as a download file (pdf-format)
- Short Description of the company or its sites
- Meta-information ( Size of company, contact information, etc.)
- Logo of the company, presentation of the sites
- Interest Groups and administrative contact points
- Practical Guide and Information on Implementation and Audit Procedures
To be able to offer the requested search facilities and to minimize the work-load of update procedures, the use of a database is essential, including the following meta-information: company name, registration code and date, short information on the company, address, telephone, fax, e-mail, contact person, link to company homepage, company size, fields of activity (structuring according to branches - statistical classification of economic activity, NACE Codes)
Additional Information: Co-operations with other companies which have been submitted to eco-auditng
Public Environment Statement
The Public Enviroment Statement is one of the key issues of the Webpage. It is offered as a download file (pdf-format) and corresponds exactly to the printed version available to the public.
Interest Groups and administrative contact points
Users will find an overview of interest groups and administrative contact points which are relevant for the implementation of the eco-auditing (guide, auditing procedure, implementation, accreditation, entry in the site register).
Practical Guide and Information on Implementation and Audit Procedures
This page could include Newsletters`, new procedure regulations and experience reports from reviewed companies and a discussion platform.
Advantages of www.emas.at
Critical indicators for the access to a website are access time, contents, accuracy, user-friendliness and a clear graphic design.
The domain name Ｘww.emas.at` allows for a logical quick access to the required information. User friendliness is guaranteed by a clear, graphic interface that allows for easy navigation. Users can perform searches precisely according to their requirements (e.g. companies in Lower Austria with more than 200 employees who finished their audit in 1999). Full-text search will become a possible feature. Due to the database structure, outdated information can be replaced amd recently reviewed companies can be included quickly and at low cost.
The Website Ｘww.emas.at` may also serve as a discussion forum (e.g. mailing lists) between companies that have been submitted to an audit, companies interested in EMAS, environmental reviewers, consultants and other interested persons. This platform should encourage other companies to join the EMAS group (more transparency, overcome barriers, information exchange).
Austria is one of the leading countries in the implementation of EMAS in Europe. Therefore, it seems logical to offer the above concept for the information management on EMAS at a European level. The proposed webpage with its designed database structure could serve as a pattern for the trans-national presentation of EMAS-reviewed companies. ISEP would be especially interested in building up and hosting a database-supported European EMAS inventory. An extention of the System in the direction of other environmentally relevant certificates (eg. ISO 14000) can be envisioned.