Environmental voluntary instruments
What are the voluntary instruments?
These include activities (methods, procedures, patterns of behaviour etc.), which are enumerated or standardised at the international level and which are implemented by businesses on voluntary basis, outside the scope of legislation.
What purpose do they serve?
Voluntary activities result in the reduction of negative impacts on the environment due to manufacturing or operating. Entrepreneurs and businesses are currently facing extensive environmental legislative requirements. To meet these requirements and at the same time to bolster competitiveness, it is sometime convenient to use voluntary instruments in order to ensure the desired reduction in environmental impacts.
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a problem identification and problem solving tool that provides companies with a method to systematically manage their environmental activities, products and services and helps to achieve their environmental obligations and performance goals.
EMAS is the EU’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. It has legal status within Member States, while being a voluntary instrument for companies.
The Ecolabel is the EU’s own award scheme for highly performing products meeting ambitious environmental standards. As EMAS, it has legal status within Member States, while being a voluntary instrument for companies.
EMAS and Eco-label Regulations are currently being revised by the European Commission, with UEAPME being actively involved in the process in order to make both schemes more SMEs friendly.