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Member State hesitance surrounding Ecolabel and EMAS

Member States have voiced concern with the Ecolabel and EMAS schemes stating that they are actually holding the states back in making environmental progress rather than assisting them in moving forward. They state that there is an ‘administrative burden’ and that the systems are not performing on as large a scale as expected. Ecolabel was implemented to create an incentive for Member States to create more environmentally friendly products by allowing producers and importers to apply for the label of their products. There is a strict EU Ecolabel criteria for labeling produts, and this is where Member States have voiced concern. They believe that the criteria is too complicated and the scheme could be more effective if it was simplified. This is something that the Commission is going to change, while also making sure that the project is still effective. Karmenu Vella has stated that the system has been successful environmentally. EMAS is a system that intends to assist companies in evaluating their sustainable and environmental progress. The continuance of EMAS is contingent on the support that the system receives from Member States. The Commission relayed a report to the Member States of an evaluation of the Ecolabel and EMAS schemes, concluding that there should be an improvement in the systems to ensure sustainable progress.


Meanwhile, the European Commission has just published a report on EMAS and the circular economy. With it, the Commission wants to address the urgent need to increase resource efficiency and highlight the contribution of EMAS organisations to the circular economy. A circular economy keeps the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible and eliminates waste. In evaluating, reporting on, and improving their environmental performance, organisations that have implemented EMAS have already taken an important first step towards achieving a circular economy

The report is a guidance document for EMAS organisations that want to participate in the circular economy and for other organisations that would like to use EMAS in their circular economy strategy. It also targets authorities committed to making their economic regions more circular by highlighting how EMAS can contribute to their objectives, thus also fostering more support for EMAS.

Circular economy in practice

The report highlights five best practices for getting started and provides examples of leading EMAS organisations.

Furthermore the report features three case studies illustrating the measures that EMAS organisations can put in place to become more circular. As circular economy measures can focus on varying business aspects (procurement, product design, waste management etc.) and be implemented by many different types of organisations from different sectors and of different sizes, the case studies can serve as a source of inspiration for developing circular economy measures.

Finally, the report reveals how:

  • circular organisations can experience multiple benefits like increased competitiveness, better resource control and continuous environmental impact reduction;
  • the transition to a circular economy can be started in just a few steps;
  • EMAS can be used to support this process by allowing organisations to measure resource efficiency, identify innovative actions and continuously improve;
  • future and current EMAS-registered organisations can develop their environmental management systems with the circular economy in mind and
  • public authorities can further encourage EMAS as a means of moving towards a circular economy through legal, economic and promotional instruments.

Take a look into the report now!

Issue 55