EMAS scheme shows signs of faltering

Figures reveal slowing growth rate, first fall in a national total of registered companies

The number of companies registering under the EU's environmental management scheme EMAS is growing more slowly now than last year, according to figures collected by the European Commission (see table below). The statistics also reveal the first recorded fall in a national total of EMAS registrations, caused by firms choosing to stick with the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 in preference to EMAS.

Total EMAS registrations grew by just under 10% over the four months from November to the end of February, up to 2,173 from 1978 at the end of October last year (ENDS Daily 26 November 1998). Commission officials confirm that this reveals a general slowdown in the pace of growth at a time when it should be buoyed by EMAS's gradual extension from manufacturing industry to service sectors such as banking, insurance and tourism.

More worrying for the EU, the figures also show that total registrations in the Netherlands fell by one between November and the end of February. Four companies deregistered during this time, Frans Stuyt, the head of the Dutch EMAS competent body told ENDS Daily, while three joined the scheme. Though two of the deregistrations were due to company mergers, two were due to firms deciding to leave the scheme.

"The two companies decided there was no public audience for EMAS," Mr Stuyt said. "They were both ISO 14001 registered, and did not like the extra work and the need to get approval for each site under EMAS. In the Netherlands, the big boys don't do it and so other companies don't follow suit." The firms operate in the waste management and food sectors, he said.

Though the Netherlands is the only country where the total number of EMAS registrations has fallen, inquiries by ENDS Daily have revealed some deliberate deregistrations in other countries too.

Two British firms - a printer and a bed manufacturer - have decided not to reregister with EMAS in recent months, according to the UK's national competent body. The companies cited lack of awareness of EMAS in the marketplace. The Danish authorities say that one registered company there - a printer - has also announced it will leave EMAS because it felt it got little added value on top of ISO 14001 certification.

Despite this, overall growth in registrations remained particularly strong in Denmark, as it did in Sweden and Finland. Meanwhile, registrations continued to rise less dramatically in both Germany and Austria, where EMAS has had by far its greatest success.

EMAS-registered sites
to 28 February 1999
Germany          1558
Austria           151
Sweden            133
Denmark            93
UK                 70
Norway             47
France             29
Spain              24
Netherlands        21
Finland            18
Italy              13
Belgium             9
Ireland             6
Luxembourg          1
Greece              0
Iceland             0
Liechtenstein       0
Portugal            0
TOTAL            2173

Follow Up:
European Commission EMAS help desk, tel: +32 2 511 2589.

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