Eco auditing

Eco-auditing (environmental audits) are used by organizations to review their environmental management systems and thus enable them to assess whether the appropriate prerequisites have been created and are functioning in order to achieve their environmentally-related objectives. Regular environmental audits are therefore a requirement and part of the two essential standardized requirements for environmental management systems that are used in practice: DIN / EN / ISO 14001 and the EC Eco-Audit Regulation (EMAS Regulation).
The latter also illustrates the special importance of the environmental audit in the context of environmental management systems by equating the term “eco-audit regulation” in its colloquial meaning with “environmental management system”.
Environmental auditing has its origins in business audits or audits (internal auditing). Accordingly, a distinction can be made according to the information recipient:

a) Internal environmental audits, which serve to inform management and reveal weaknesses and potential for improvement in corporate environmental protection. These audits can be carried out by employees or external consultants. The object area of internal environmental audits ranges from checking compliance with environmentally relevant regulations (compliance audit) to management system audits (e.g. the environmental audit in the EMAS regulation).

b) Externe Umwelt-Audits, welche die Einhaltung von Vorgaben aus der Gesetz- und Normgebung überprüfen und nach außen sichtbar bescheinigen. Ihre Durchführung obliegt akkreditierten Zertifizierern (ISO 14001) bzw. zugelassenen Umweltgutachtern (EMAS-Verordnung). Ihr erfolgreicher Abschluss wird mit einem Zertifikat bescheinigt. Im Gegensatz zu den Instrumenten des Umwelt-Controlling (Umweltschutz-Controlling) — wie etwa der Environmental cost accounting oder Lebenszyklusbetrachtungen — handelt es sich bei den Verfahren des Umwelt-Auditing, gleich welcher Form, um Überwachungs- und nicht um Steuerungsinstrumente. Dennoch bestehen zwischen Umwelt-Controlling und Umwelt-Auditing auch Gemeinsamkeiten: Beide Bereiche sind Unterstützungsfunktionen der Unternehmensführung, die über Informations- und Beratungskompetenzen, nicht aber über Entscheidungsbefugnis verfügen.

The process sequence of an environmental audit differs only slightly from that of other management system audits (e.g. quality management audit according to DIN / EN / ISO 10011-1). If the company operates a standardized environmental management system (EMAS or DIN / EN / ISO 14001), the implementation of an environmental audit must be based on the requirements of DIN / EN / ISO 14010 / -12. All of the aforementioned standards for environmental and quality management audits will be replaced by a unified standard from 2002, DIN / EN / ISO 19011.
The main structures and elements of such an audit are shown in the figure.
Mit dem Abschlussbericht ist das eigentliche Umwelt-Audit beendet. Da dieser jedoch nicht Ziel des Audit-Prozesses ist, sondern vielmehr aufgedeckte Schwachstellen beseitigt werden sollen, kommt den in der Abbildung skizzierten Audit-Folgeaktivitäten ein besonderer Stellenwert zu. Die Maßnahmenplanung und -umsetzung obliegt jedoch nicht mehr dem Audit, sondern dem Environmental management. Der Maßnahmenplan kann jedoch wiederum Ansatzpunkt für ein Folge-Audit sein, das dessen erfolgreiche Implementierung kontrollieren hilft.

The application of standardized environmental management systems, as well as the implementation of environmental audits within their framework, has achieved a high priority in practice. The use of ISO 14001 as an industry standard has the advantage of international acceptance, whereas the EMAS system has the force of law as an EU regulation to be applied voluntarily by the company. The often noted competition between the two systems has been transformed into a complementarity with the revised EMAS regulation (EMAS-II), which has been applicable since April 27, 2001. EMAS-II is positioned as a more extensive system compared to ISO 14001.

EMAS-II dispenses with its own regulations for setting up an environmental management system and instead refers to ISO 14001. The normal case for companies will therefore be to first introduce an environmental management system according to ISO 14001 and, if necessary, have it certified with an external audit, and then in one second step to meet the additional requirements of EMAS-II - for example the preparation of an environmental declaration to be published. The additional benefits of such a more extensive certification are apparently carefully weighed up by the companies: The certification figures in the years 1998-2001 clearly developed in the direction of ISO 14001, which is also due to its international acceptance. With EMAS-II, however, significant obstacles to broader participation were removed: All organizations can now use EMAS and no longer just special commercial companies.

In addition, the location reference of the regulation has been expanded to include an organizational reference as in ISO 14001, ie companies with several locations no longer have to have these certified separately. The benefits of an EMAS-II certification should also be increased by a higher level of awareness of the declaration of participation in the public as well as further environmental deregulations for certified companies.

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