Danish green reporting law bears fruit

Most companies meet deadline for first reporting round; industry says some data not available

A first round of corporate reporting required under the European Union's most wide-ranging environmental reporting law is nearly complete, according to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Nearly 1,000 Danish companies are required to deliver annual environmental reports under a 1995 "green accounts" law, which took effect in January 1996. Charlotte Thy of the EPA told ENDS Daily that about four-fifths of the reports were now received, with the rest due by the end of the year. A full evaluation of the results is expected to take a year.

Under the green accounts act, Denmark's most environmentally significant companies must report key emissions to water air and soil in a standardised format. In addition, they must disclose the amount of energy, water and raw materials used, as well as the amount of polluting substances in products and in wastes.

Reports have to be made on special forms, which include sections for introductory facts about companies, a management statement and a quantitative statement. According to Ms Thy, several obvious reporting mistakes have appeared in the forms received so far, but the EPA is cautiously optimistic about the programme.

Some in industry are less positive. "From the green accounts I've seen so far, approximately one-third are in some way wrong," said Peter Skov, deputy director of the Confederation of Danish Industries. Mr Skov said that vague instructions were partly to blame, though he suggested that lack of familiarity with some reporting elements also contributed.

According to Mr Skov, the law is requiring companies to record data that until now has usually not been collected. "You know exactly what your raw materials consist of. But if you use things that are processed already, you may not know what they contain," Mr Skov told ENDS Daily.

For the EPA, Charlotte Thy stresses the programme's potential benefits. First, she says, information that was previously scattered around some 300 regulatory offices will now be gathered together in once place, and in a format suitable for public use.

Second, Danish companies could benefit from preparing green accounts because industrial customers are asking for more environmental information. "A lot of Danish enterprises are suppliers to Germany industry, who are registered [to the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS)]. Danish industries are asked about their environmental profiles. They must report it."

Follow Up:
Danish Environmental Protection Agency , tel: +45 32 66 01 00; Danish Confederation of Industries , tel: +45 33 77 33 77.

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