EMAS in the European Institutions
The European Commission was the first EU Institution to become registered with EMAS and currently, 17 EU Institutions and bodies are EMAS-registered. The European Commission EMAS team members are proud and honoured to have served sometimes as 'mentors' to their colleagues in setting up the scheme in other institutions – "Walking the talk", as we say!
The European Commission (EC) sets an example by reducing the environmental impact of its own activities through EMAS. Key priorities are the efficient use of natural resources (mainly energy, water and paper), the reduction of overall CO2 emissions, waste prevention, recycling and re-use, green public procurement, and sustainable mobility. In September 2001 the EC decided to pilot the implementation of EMAS in four services in Brussels. The Commission was the first EU Institution to achieve an EMAS-registration already in 2005. Since January 2010, this system has progressively extended to all the services' activities and buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) sites and DG SANTE's site at Grange, significantly increasing the number of concerned employees from 4,000 to approximately 35,000.
The Commission’s Political Guidelines for the period 2019-2024 recognise the importance of Europe continuing its leading role on the global stage in reducing environmental impacts. They include, at their core, the commitment to develop a European Green Deal under which achieving tougher climate related targets will play a particularly important role. Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is the greatest challenge and opportunity of our times. It involves taking decisive action now!
The European Commission is determined to be a front-runner in the transition towards a climate neutral society, by setting out an ambitious and realistic plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. As a proof of this determination, on Earth Day 2022 the Commission made a pledge under the European Climate Pact and committed to gradually reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% compared to 2005. It will compensate any remaining emissions with high quality certified carbon removals, as part of its Greening the Commission Communication and action plan. More: People first – Greening the European Commission | European Commission (europa.eu).
This ambitious goal is envisaged in the new Commission’s Environmental Policy, see flash-animation and e-poster in English and English/French.
Currently, the Commission's environmental management system covers its eight largest sites which are located in seven European countries, meaning 60 occupied buildings in Brussels, 15 buildings in Luxembourg, and the five Joint Research Centre (JRC) sites in Petten, Geel, Seville, Karlsruhe, Ispra and DG SANTE's site at Grange. In total, this reaches up to 1,613,427 m 2 – or 96% of the EC sites. For the coming years, the Commission aims to further extend the scope of its EMAS registration to include executive agencies under Commission facilities management control, as well as EC Representations across Europe, and by doing so to ensure the continuous reduction of its environmental impact.
Since the first EMAS registration in 2005, the Commission has achieved significant results
(These results refer to the Brussels site during the period 2005-2020):
- Energy for buildings = - 72% (MWh/person)
- CO2 emissions for buildings* = - 88%* (tonnes/person)
- Office paper = - 90% (sheets/person/day)
- Water use = - 73% (m3/person)
- Non hazardous waste = - 69% (tonnes/person)
* CO2 emissions reduction exceeds that of energy consumption as electricity has been purchased from 95% renewable sources since 2009.
Concerning its 2014-2020 environmental performance improvement targets, the Commission has already in 2017 reached and far exceed its targets for water (-8%), office paper (-31%) and non-hazardous waste (-7,3%). These impressive achievements led the EMAS Steering Committee on 30 January 2019, following mid-term review, to adopt more ambitious environmental performance targets for 2014-20. These included reducing water use by 5% (instead of 4%); office paper consumption by 34% (instead of 0.4%); CO2 emissions of Commission fleet vehicles, according to manufacturer specifications, by 14% (instead of 6%) and non-hazardous waste generation by 10% (instead of 2%). See EMAS Results’ brochure.
The Commission's EMAS Steering Committee adopted in January 2020 a Global Action Plan containing 232 ongoing or new actions addressing resource use (energy, water, paper), carbon dioxide emissions, waste and biodiversity amongst others. Notwithstanding this impressive performance, the Commission is keen to reduce its environmental impact and to lead by example. All the above noteworthy environmental improvements result from a combination of technical measures, green public procurement and the personal commitment of the European Commission's staff. The Commission has generated cumulative energy savings of 134 million € (during 2005-2020) in Brussels alone, at a direct cost of under 70 € per person for coordinating EMAS in 2020.
For further information, see the Environmental Statement 2022 (period 2021) – Corporate Summary and the Environmental Statement 2022 (period 2021) – Consolidated Volume: Corporate Summary and 9 Annexes.
For any general inquiries concerning "EMAS in EC" you may address the EMAS coordination team in DG HR:
- Mr Celso Sanchez Martinez - EMAS Management Representative
- Mr Michael Rourke - EMAS Officer
- Ms Elisabetta Tonin - EMAS Officer
- Mr David da Camara Gomes - EMAS Officer
- Ms Patricia Mayer - EMAS Financial Officer & Responsible for technical support to DG COMM Representations
- Dr Sofia Gregou - EMAS Corporate Communication, Training and Documentation
- And/or the EMAS in EC functional mailbox
The European Environment Agency was the first EU body to introduce an environmental management system in 2004 and received its EMAS registration in spring 2005. Since then, EEA has helped other organisations introduce environmental measures and was itself nominated for an EMAS Award in 2009.
More information can be found at here.
The European Parliament is EMAS registered for its three places of work (Strasbourg (FR) - Luxembourg and Brussels (BE)) since December 2007. In 2016, President Martin Schulz and Secretary-General Klaus Welle signed a new environmental policy reaffirming the EP's administration commitment to "maintaining its EMAS registration and its environmental approach to continuous improvement with a view towards achieving environmental sustainability in all its administrative activities".
The EMAS project in the EP was launched by the Bureau in 2004, with the aim to continually improving its environmental performance.
By relying on the commitment of every single employee and the support of all its services, EMAS provides the framework for the European Parliament to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and save resources for future generations. As part of the European Green Deal, the Parliament is also studying its forward-looking policies on how to reduce its carbon footprint towards carbon neutrality.
More information can be found here.
EUIPO is the European Union Intellectual Property Office responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the registered Community design and has been EMAS registered since September 2008.
The EUIPOs Integrated Management Policy states the following: "Our commitment to making management standards better includes both learning from international best practices and establishing an integrated policy to ensure all our processes are efficient. This means combining operational efficiency with advanced human resource capabilities, information systems as well as the physical infrastructure."
More information can be found here.
Since it registered with EMAS in 2010, the European Central Bank (ECB) has constantly been improving its environmental management system through its Green ECB initiative. The ECB is always looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and make its environmental performance even stronger. Take a look this video to learn more about what the ECB is doing.
You can also find more information on the ECB’s website.
The European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions are two consultative bodies of the European Union. They are unique in that they share joint services and infrastructure. They have also jointly undertaken to implement an environmental management system, formalised by EMAS registration and ISO 14001 certification in 2011. This approach has made it possible not only to obtain these certifications but also to make all stakeholders aware of the environmental aspects associated with everyday activities. Implementing EMAS also provides an opportunity to take account of the principles of sustainable building management, to optimise heating, lighting and paper consumption, to develop a more sustainable canteen, to select environmentally friendly cleaning products and paint, to reduce and sort waste, to reduce food waste at events, etc.
All measures and results are set out in the environmental statement:
Many of the General Secretariat of the Council's (GSC) activities have some impact on the environment. The GSC has been working since 2010 to reduce this impact and protect the environment, through high quality environmental management which applies to all GSC activities in the buildings it occupies in Brussels. The GSC obtained ISO 14001 certification and the EMAS registration in 2016.
The main goals of the GSC's environmental programme include:
- cutting primary energy consumption through renewable energy production and efficient energy use
- ensuring efficient use of water and preventing water pollution
- waste prevention and reduction, re-use of materials and promoting recycling
- employees involvement
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- reducing paper consumption and using recycled and eco-friendly paper
The GSC also promotes environmentally-friendly mobility among employees and visitors and incorporates environmental criteria into public procurement procedures.
For more information, please consult GSC's Environmental statement.
The European Union is at the forefront of commitments to ensure protection of the environment worldwide. The Court of Justice of the European Union, as an institution, attaches great importance to this question and it has decided to commit itself to that endeavour with vigour and conviction by using the Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and being EMAS-registered since 2016.
The Court was officially EMAS-registered on 10 March 2017, and we successfully operate an environmental management system in line with EMAS Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 and ISO 14001. Our registration number is LU-000004.
For additional information, please see the Court's corporate environmental management webpage, where you can find our environmental statement, in which we present our environmental performance results and any future plans for improvement.
Since 2015, EFSA has been working on the implementation of an environmental management system, obtaining in November 2016 the ISO 14001:2004 certification and, in February 2017, the EMAS registration. Being EMAS registered has contributed to the implementation of EFSA's key values such as openness and transparency, meeting the expectation of the local communities; innovation, pushing EFSA to be pro-active encouraging the green economy; and cooperation, establishing a strong dialogue with the other organisations part of the EMAS community.
For more information, check out EFSA's Environmental Statement:
The EIB Group is the European Union’s long- term financing institution. It provides finance and technical assistance to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth through two complementary entities, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). In September 2015, our Board of Directors approved the EIB Climate Change Strategy. Part of this far-reaching initiative was to implement an Environmental Management System for the Group allowing us to manage our internal environmental performance in an effective manner. In December 2018, we obtained ISO14001 certification and then in March 2019 EMAS registration.
With EMAS, the EIB Group can look forward to an environmentally conscious future. It will give us a framework to plan and build our internal environmental programmes; remove single-use plastics, monitor and improve our energy performance, reduce waste, recycle and reuse resources to their best advantage. In a world that is increasingly looking towards the “circular economy”, EMAS gives us a robust and stable platform on which to build.
On its successful EMAS registration, EIB Secretary General Marjut Santoni said: "This achievement is attributable to EIB-wide efforts and intense cooperation across all services. Being EMAS-minded will motivate each one of us to minimise our environmental impact. As the EU financing institution targeting climate action as a priority, we must demonstrate the same strong commitment to the environment that we require from our stakeholders and business partners.”
For more information please check EMAS Environmental Policy and the Environmental Statement 2019.
Europol initiated its EMAS initiative in 2017 and, as a result, an Environmental Management System meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 and EMAS regulation was established within the organisation in the period 2018–2021. This has enabled Europol to gain insights into its environmental impact and the agency is now well-equipped to monitor, control and continuously improve its environmental performance. Europol has been ISO14001:2015 certified since November 2021 and EMAS registered since February 2022.
The implementation of EMAS directly supports Europol’s strategy to be the model EU law enforcement organisation with robust performance, good governance, and accountability, promoting diversity and staff engagement. It also demonstrates Europol’s commitment to sustainable development contributing to the EU Green Deal and the Paris Agreement objectives.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has implemented an environment management system (EMS) since 2015 and has been ISO 14001:2015 certified since 2016. The decision to have a recognised EMS was taken as ECHA’s operational role in contributing towards a better environment under EU Chemicals Legislation should be complemented with a commitment to managing our environmental performance as an organisation.
ECHA sought further improvements and the next step was for ECHA to prepare for registration under the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) in 2020, when ECHA’s Executive Director pledged that ECHA will become net-carbon by 2030. This supports the ambitions of the EU Green Deal and the role of ECHA in the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability to help achieve a toxic-free environment.
In short, ECHA’s environmental management system:
- includes monitoring and reporting ECHA’s environmental performance and ensures staff engagement and stakeholder involvement on environmental aspects;
- enables ECHA to increase the sustainability of its operations and minimise the negative impact its activities have on the environment;
- is ISO 14001:2015 certified and EMAS Registered.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) implements EMAS as part of its commitment to reduce its environmental impact and carbon footprint. The EBA’s annual environmental statement reflects the Authority's progress on such commitment.
The EBA has an important role in supporting the European banking sector towards the objectives of transitioning to a more sustainable economy and mitigating risks stemming from climate change and broader environmental, social and governance factors.
The scope of EMAS is applicable to all the EBA’s operational activities as well as its core business activities and products carried out with a view to maintaining financial stability in the EU and safeguarding the integrity, efficiency and orderly functioning of the European banking sector.
You can find more information on the EBA's environmental performance on Sustainable EBA | European Banking Authority (europa.eu).
The European Training Foundation is the EU agency supporting countries surrounding the European Union to reform their education, training and labour market systems.
In October 2019, we adopted our environmental policy and started our environmental management project that aims to:
- reduce carbon dioxide emissions
- promote the efficient use of energy, water and paper, and reduce waste
- incorporate environmental guidelines into procurement procedures
- ensure appropriate behaviour and commitment through training and by increasing awareness
- take preventive measures to counter pollution
- ensure compliance with the necessary requirements
- provide sufficient resources for its environmental management system
- promote transparent communication and dialogue.
As an EU organisation, the ETF is committed to making a positive contribution to the environment and to sustainable development as a long-term goal. This is reflected in how we operate and in the decisions we make to reduce the environmental impact of our activities. The ETF has been EMAS and ISO 14001 certified since 2021
The ETF’s work is devised and delivered in the context of the EU’s policies and external relations priorities in support of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We support partner countries in the EU’s neighbouring regions to prepare for the green transition through the reform of human capital development systems to drive the shift towards sustainable, clean, carbon-neutral circular economies, and just and fair societies.
The ETF environmental policy and EMAS declaration 2022 are available for consultation on the ETF website
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has a key role in supporting the orderly transition to a more sustainable economy and the European Commission’s objectives, as outlined in its Strategic Orientation 2020-2022. Sustainability is an integral part of ESMA’s mandate.
In 2019, ESMA’s founding Regulation was revised granting it additional responsibilities and tasks in relation to sustainable finance, which has become part of ESMA’s Annual Work Programmes since 2020, both as a cross-cutting theme and through specific implementation objectives within sectoral areas.
The scope of the Environmental Management System (EMS) covers both ESMA’s operations and activities in Paris and its mandates regarding sustainability and ESG factors integration within its mission in enhancing the protection of investors and promoting stable and orderly financial markets.
ESMA annual public Environmental Statement reflects ESMA’s progress on these commitments.
Printing on demand at the General Secretariat of the Council
When reflecting on how to reduce the quantity of paper printed by the General Secretariat of the Council, the first step was to analyse its consumption. It turned out that the majority of paper was used in the numerous meetings organised in the Council buildings, on average 20 meetings per day (and over 4,000 per year).
This was the starting point in the development of a new policy, introduced in 2014, called "print-on-demand". The principle is quite simple: documents are distributed electronically prior to the meetings in order to reduce the stock of printed documents available. A single point of contact was also designated to centralise printing orders, to avoid printing twice the same information. Last but not least, staff was encouraged to exercise restraint when ordering copies of informal meeting documents.
A lot of different services collaborated to ensure a smooth implementation of the new policy, which proved very successful! Combined with the reduction of individual printers in favour of network printers, and with awareness-raising campaigns, these measures lead to an incredible reduction of the GSC's paper consumption. Between 2010 and 2016, the quantity of paper used per person was divided by two! And, of course, all of the office paper used is made of 100% recycled fibres.
Ending large-scale printing at the European Central Bank
The production of official publications was responsible for most of the ECB's paper consumption, using 786 tonnes in 2008. This included the publication of the ECB Annual Report and the various communication and educational materials produced for the adoption of the euro by new European countries. Since then, the amount of paper used by official publications has declined by 91%, standing at 72 tonnes in 2017.
These results were possible thanks to the Governing Council's decisions to reduce and subsequently end large-scale printing of the ECB's official publications.
Meanwhile, the ECB's digital communication strategy supports the transition to digital means of communication by making official publications available in electronic format, e.g. web PDF, e-PUB and HTML. The design of the ECB's publications has also been updated to facilitate the move away from printed copies and enable online usage on handheld devices.
Over the past three years the ECB has used a number of tools to communicate information about the new euro banknotes, including films, a dedicated currency website, a smartphone app and online games.Thanks to these measures, campaigns of this kind are far less paper-intensive than in the past.
The first passive building in the Commission portfolio
The MO15 building is not only the first passive building of the European Commission in Brussels but is also a sustainable building.
The building is easily accessible by public transport as it is located in the immediate vicinity of the "Trône" metro station and within walking distance from the "Luxembourg" railway station.
The MO15 is a passive building and requires 5 times less energy than an average office building in Belgium.
To ensure the thermal comfort of the occupants, the building is designed to make maximum use of free natural energy resources and to limit the energy needs to a strict minimum. The building is equipped with a geothermic exchange system which allows the extraction of heat or cold from the ground according to the season.
In 2012, the MO15 received the "exemplary building" award from Brussels Environment.
In 2016 it has been classified as "BREEAM Excellent", an international certification system for sustainable buildings. The MO15 is almost a nearly-zero energy building which will be mandatory for new public buildings from 2019 onwards.
A sustainable design for the ECB's main building
The ECB's main building is a notable addition to Frankfurt's skyline.
From the outset of the design competition, the ECB's stated aim was for its new premises to be 30% more energy efficient than stipulated by the 2007 German energy saving directive.
The building's energy and water-saving features include:
- using recycled heat from the computer system to heat the offices;
- efficient insulation of the facades;
- natural ventilation of office spaces;
- efficient solar protection and low-energy lighting;
- a heating and cooling system powered by geothermal energy;
- a rainwater system to irrigate the gardens.
Urban regeneration was also a key consideration in the planning of the building. The grounds around the main building were transformed from a largely paved area into a landscaped river bank with the planting of more than 700 new trees that complement the local ecosystem.
The former wholesale market hall – the Grossmarkthalle – was restored in such a way as to retain some of the original building materials and it is now an integral part of the ECB's main building. Energy-efficient windows matching the original design were also installed in cooperation with Frankfurt am Main's historic preservation and energy conservation authorities.
To support local biodiversity, the ECB has placed outdoor shelters for insects, bats and birds – including blue chickadees, redstarts and sparrows – near the meadows in the garden. These bat and bird houses and insect hotels, installed during 2017 and 2018, were purchased from the German Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (Naturschutzbund Deutschland – NABU).
Greening the European Parliament's buildings
The European Parliament aims to reduce CO₂ emissions per Full Time Equivalent by 40% by 2030. For this reason, the European Parliament's priorities include the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings as well as a whole renovation policy for the existing buildings in line with energy improvement in its workplaces in Brussels (BE), Strasbourg (FR) and Luxembourg (LU). Moreover, the European Parliament uses 100% green electricity since 2008.
The new Wilfried Martens building in Brussels as well as the extension project of the Konrad Adenauer building in Luxembourg, have both been certified the "excellent" BREEAM level1, due to the use of geothermal energy and heat pumps, cogeneration, collection of rainwater, triple glazing and advanced insulation of façades.
As for the management and renovation of existing buildings, environmental aspects are taken into account and many actions were implemented to optimize the yield of resources and to reduce energy consumption with a more efficient use of renewable energy, while maintaining the comfort of staff. The actions include:
- low energy bulbs in communal areas and better management of the lighting in meeting rooms,
- improved energy management with presence controlled heating and cooling,
- installation of low-water-consuming tap ware.
Thanks to these efforts, electricity consumption has been reduced by 17.6% and gas consumption by 15.5% per Full Time Equivalent between 2006 and 2016.
1BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), is the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings.
Internal strategy to reduce plastic consumption
First plastic bottles, and then spoons: plastic is disappearing from the Council. In early 2018 plastic water bottles were replaced by glass ones in all meeting rooms of the Council. Then plastic spoons in the restaurants and cafeterias were replaced in September 2018 by metal spoons (for yoghurts, fruit salad, etc.). The wooden sticks are available for stirring hot drinks. This change is a big step and it is part of the Council internal programme to reduce plastic use.
To reduce the consumption of disposable paper and plastic cups, first 200 porcelain mugs, which could be borrowed for a small deposit, were put to the staff's disposal. These mugs can be used for takeaway hot drinks from the cafeterias or in coffee vending machines. Staff can either borrow an EMAS mug or bring its own mug. Alternatively, the mugs can even be used at the water fountains instead of a plastic cup. Used EMAS mugs can be brought back to the cafeteria to get clean ones. Washing the mugs in professional dishwashers is better for the environment than washing each one individually with detergent. This small initiative to reduce the consumption of plastic in line with the goals set out in the EU plastics strategy was a success. Five months later, 800 additional mugs with the environmental management logo, EMAS, were introduced.
No more plastic or paper with our coffee
More than 2,500 disposable cups were being used every day – but not any longer. In 2018 the ECB replaced most paper and bioplastic cups with ceramic cups and glasses.
Replacing the disposable cups in the common areas was only the first step: coffee beans have now taken the place of coffee pods. Previously, enough coffee pods were consumed in one year to cover the distance between the ECB and the European Parliament in Strasbourg!
In addition, the vending machines are now equipped with glass jars instead of single-use packaging for some product lines. The jars can be returned in exchange for the deposit charge. The ECB will keep looking for new ways to reduce and recycle waste.
New Guidelines on organising sustainable EC meetings and events
To support the Commission’s commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its activities, the EMAS Steering Committee approved guidelines including minimum requirements (and advanced options) for Commission event planners to meet. They contain a checklist covering seven steps of event organisation focussing on reducing waste generation, energy consumption and encouraging the use of sustainable foods and products.
This is in line with the Commission delivering on its #OurOceans 2017 commitment announced by Vice-President Timmermans.
In relation to its Brussels buildings:
- all single-use plastic cups in water fountains and vending machines were phased out in 2017;
- in 2018, plastic cups have gradually been replaced by recyclable paper cups, straws removed and plastic stirrers replaced by wooden ones; and
- work-in-progress include single-use plastic packaging being such as used for salads being substituted gradually by reusable alternatives and water fountains being installed in all EC-restaurants and canteens.
And this is part of the picture. Nearly 50 actions for the gradual removal of single-use items are on-going in all EC-sites.
The EESC/CoR fight against food waste
The EESC and the CoR are engaged in the fight against food waste in their canteens and buffets organised for conferences hosted in their buildings since 2014:
- Measures taken by the supplier: management of purchases and stocks, food conservation and awareness raising among canteen staff,
- Quantification of waste at the canteen and for the buffets,
- Monitoring of buffets: the main cause of food waste,
- Awareness and information of the actors involved: a Green Buffets guide has been shared with the organisers of the events, a collection of best practices on waste reduction and measures to reduce the environmental impact of buffets.
Since October 2015, these measures have been complemented with food donations to some associations of Brussels. During 2017, 4,500 sandwiches were donated to people in need.
In 2016, food waste at the canteen was about 4.9%, which translates to approximatively 235 dishes per month on average. The result is in line with the lower averages for catering. The objective for the 2016-2019 of remaining below 10% of food waste has been obtained. Food waste for buffets was around 20% in 2016, however there are great variations between events.
New workstations from old: the Commission goes circular
In December 2015, the European Commission adopted a series of measures to promote the circular economy, where resources are used more sustainably, making greater use of recycling and re-use.
In order to put this new policy into practice and while respecting the spirit of its EMAS environmental management, the European Commission in Brussels has given priority to the recycling and/or refitting of 2,533 workstations at the end of their life instead of putting them in a landfill or an incinerator. Wooden trays are reused in formwork panels, or refitted to make poufs and new trays (after cutting and reassembling). As for the metal frames, they are either used by the Joint Research centres' sites in Ispra and Petten in making new workplaces, by assembling them with trays they have in stock, or taken for scrap and melted down to become a raw material again In the end, the quantity of waste will be limited to 13% of the initial wood material, the metal having been completely reused or recycled. These operations prevented the generation of 30 tonnes of wood-type waste, the production of about 44 tonnes of CO₂ compared to the manufacture of new goods and saved more than 35 tonnes of wood as raw material.
Watch their explanatory video here.
A second life for our ICT equipment
For more than a decade now the European Commission has being taking steps to tackle a number of environmental issues throughout the whole life-cycle of ICT.
To keep step with constantly evolving ICT technology and enable staff to use efficient, state-of-the-art IT equipment, the Commission has enforced the policy of replacing PCs and other IT devices every 4 to 5 years on average, which results in significant environmental impacts. For this reason, a lot of effort is put into minimising the amount of e-waste generated by this practice.
Oxfam-Solidarité (which is EMAS registered) has been given the task of collecting, updating and/or repairing the ICT devices in order to give them a second life through discounted resale or charitable donation. The collaboration has had outstanding results: while an average 15,784 ICT items were collected every year by Oxfam over the period 2010-2012, it increased up to 26,058 per year between 2013 and 2016 (+65%). Even more important, quantity has not been detrimental to quality. Since 2011 the target of having 70% of the collected items reused has been exceeded by a wide margin: every year, an impressive 87% to 91% of the collected items were reused.
What cannot be reused gets dismantled. Some of the components are used for refurbishing and the remaining parts are transferred to operators – such as "La Poudrière" and "Out of Use"- which are approved by Récupel, the non-profit organisation in charge of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recycling in Belgium. The large-scale reuse of e-waste that gives a second life to more than 20,000 ICT items a year saves emissions of more than 2,500 tonnes of greenhouse gases (Oxfam's 2015 Activity Report) but it also has social and humanitarian dimensions.
Watch their explanatory video here.
JRC Ispra: How to save 15,000 plastic water bottles per month
FACT - findings from a 2016 analysis of the use of four water dispensers in the canteen area of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) Ispra, indicated that they had led to the reduction of 15,000 plastic water bottles per month, over a period of 29 months.
Eager to act upon this staggering finding, and in line with the recently announced Commission initiative to phase out single-use plastics, the JRC Ispra Site management Department authorised a project to increase the number of water dispensers across the site. Colleagues will therefore be facilitated in refilling, instead of purchasing water in single-use plastic bottles.
The additional water dispensers will be placed in key locations frequented by a high density of staff.
The project is foreseen to be implemented in the course of 2018 and will be supported by an awareness-raising campaign to inform staff and further encourage practising the 3Rs: Reduce - Reuse - Recycle, a key element of the Green@Work concept.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at the European Parliament
In 2016 the European Parliament welcomed Bea Johnson, la Grande prêtresse du Zéro Déchet, for a conference on Zero Waste Home. It was the highlight of a long series of initiatives to reduce the amount of waste and reducing its environmental impact by implementing the 3R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce: The European Parliament has an ambitious policy of removal of personal individual printers, in favour of the use of networked multifunction printers with double-sided printing as the default setting. The policy's objectives are to reduce the volume of printing and paper consumption, optimise costs, reduce waste (printers and cartridges) and cut overall energy consumption, thereby reducing Parliament's carbon footprint. 2,000 individual printers have been phased-out so far. Through the Green Public Procurement approach, the European Parliament tries to minimize the amount of waste produced, for example with a take back packaging mention in some contracts. Furthermore, in the context of the new sustainable catering strategy, was introduced a new charitable food donation scheme. The Altiero Spinelli canteen in Brussels became in September 2016 a food donation pioneer. Every day, unsold food from the Altiero Spinelli building canteen in Brussels is collected and given away to charitable organisations. This is a landmark initiative for the EU, as Parliament is the first institution to launch a fully-fledged food donation programme. These food donations are tightly monitored. Packages are sent to the Brussels-Brabant food bank and feed (among others) refugees based near the 'Gare Centrale'. The estimation is around 120 kg per week sent out, equivalent of 120 meals. These provisions for charitable donations of unconsumed food, which aid in further reduction of food waste, were included in the call for tenders for management/ operation of sustainable collective catering infrastructure and services, as well as related services in buildings occupied or to be occupied in Brussels by the European Parliament. This call for tender incorporated Parliament's Green Public Procurement approach, including advanced environmental criteria and a similar approach is now planned for Strasbourg.
Reuse: In an effort to promote circular economy, the European Parliament has an established practice of donating decommissioned IT equipment and durable goods such as office furniture to charitable organisations for refurbishing and reuse. Specialised organizations recover these equipment in order to recondition them, put them back in shape and redistribute them to other entities (either via a resale on the second hand market, or by providing associations). The European Parliament ensures the traceability of recycled material by incorporating reporting requirements regarding re-use and recycling in the contracts. The European Parliament also operates an electronic office supplies exchange, where surplus or unused office supplies (new and used) from one part of the administration can be used by another part where they are needed. This reduces the need to purchase new supplies, thus reducing the amount of waste generated, and at the same time increases resource and work efficiency.
Recycle: Since 2012, food waste is not incinerated anymore since 2015 but biomethanised. Staff was encouraged towards better recycling through the introduction of 5-waste compartment bins: a real opportunity, not only for staff, but also for visitors to better separate their waste. The first results are encouraging: the total collected weight and the compliance rate increases year by year. Information campaigns on separate waste collection are launched on a regular basis on TV screens and banners in Parliament´s buildings.
Harvesting rainwater on the roof
The former wholesale market hall – the Grossmarkthalle – is an integral part of the ECB’s main premises. Its roof covers an area of around 10,000m2 and features a rainwater collection system with a total capacity of 300m³. This water is used to irrigate the garden and flush the toilets up to the sixth floor.
The garden irrigation system is a highly effective way of saving water. The rainwater is collected in a small container which simulates the moisture level of the ground. The irrigation system is only activated when the sensors detect a change due to lack of rain.
Collection and recycling of rain-water
Brussels is known for its somewhat humid weather, and even if rain is often followed by sunshine, the recorded annual rainfall is one of the highest in Europe. The General Secretariat of the Council decided to turn this unpleasant record into an opportunity with an intelligent recovery system.
Gutters drain rainwater collected on the three Council buildings' roofs into five tanks, with a total capacity of 530,000 litres.
This water supplies directly the Lex and Europa buildings' toilets, and is also used to water the plants surrounding the buildings, including the Europa's green wall.
In the Lex for example, the 1,347,000 litres of rainwater recovered each year reduces the building's total water consumption by 10% on average.
Smarter mobility at the ECB
The ECB encourages employees to reduce the environmental impact of their commute. For instance, it offers discounted public transport tickets and facilities for cyclists to shower and change when they arrive at work. Employees can also telework and thus avoid commuting altogether.
Since 2012, the ECB has participated in European Mobility Week, putting on a range of activities to raise staff awareness about sustainable commuting and to encourage employees to walk, cycle, use public transport or share a ride to work.
During this week, the ECB runs competitions in which teams of employees test their knowledge about sustainable commuting. The ECB also organises on-site bicycle safety inspections, with dedicated stands informing staff about routes, safety measures and the environmental impact of each commuting option.
2017 Bike Brussels Awards goes to the Commission!
In September 2017, the European Commission won an award from the Brussels Region (2017 Bike Brussels Awards) for its cycling challenge "VeloMai" realised in May 2017. This was about the first corporate bike-to-work challenge organised by the Commission, aiming at increasing the use of bicycle for commuting. During the whole month of May 2017, colleagues across the Commission challenged each other – and other services – for the highest number of rides and/or kilometres. It gathered nearly 1,700 participants who have pedalled ~ 215,000 kilometres (more than 5 times the earth circumference). This award confirms the very positive initiatives developed by the Commission to encourage staff to use more sustainable means of transport, and bicycle in particular.
The VeloMai initiative was also a good example of the collaborative approach between different DGs, Offices and Agencies (DG HR, OIB, OIL, DG MOVE, EASME, EMAS, and the European Union Cyclists' Group - EUCG) and was also organized in different sites of the Commission (Brussels, Luxembourg, Ispra, Geel, Karsruhe,…).
Sustainable Procurement Guideline helps keep the environment clean
In 2012, the ECB introduced its Sustainable Procurement Guideline to reduce the environmental impact of the products and services it purchases. Support from external providers is crucial to lowering the ECB’s environmental impact and to the success of its environmental management system.
Sustainability criteria were taken into account, for instance, when selecting the ECB’s cleaning contractor. These criteria led to the introduction of many environmentally friendly materials in daily operations, such as recycled paper in washrooms. The cleaning company working for the ECB uses innovative non-hazardous, fully biodegradable cleaning products and mechanical deep-cleaning procedures only. The dosing process has also been optimised to reduce water consumption and improve water recycling when cleaning floors.
To improve the working conditions of cleaners, the ECB has now adopted daytime cleaning as standard practice. This change enables cleaners to have regular working hours and full-time employment. Together with these direct effects, daytime cleaning also has a positive environmental impact: cleaners can go to work more easily by public transport, and the office buildings have reduced operating hours.
Eight European institutions and bodies join together to create a common Green Public Procurement Helpdesk
European Parliament is the first EU institution to formulate a systematic, institution-wide GPP approach, based on classification of contracts with respect to greenness and numerical targets for their greening. In 2017, over 72% of contracts in the priority categories, i.e. those with the highest environmental impact, were classified in one of the three highest greenness categories: Very Green, Green, or Green by Nature.
Although voluntary, GPP has a key role to play in the EU's efforts to become a more resource-efficient economy. Not only does it reduce direct negative effects on the environment, but also with public purchase of goods and services estimated to account directly for 16% of GDP in the EU, GPP can help stimulate critical demand for more sustainable goods and services. When minimal environmental standards in the tender are raised, companies supplying low quality and non-ecological products will need to adapt- thus benefiting all European citizens.
On the initiative of the European Parliament, eight European institutions and bodies have joined together to create a common inter-institutional Green Public Procurement (GPP) Helpdesk since beginning 2017, which provides a comprehensive service to procurement officers on general GPP inquiries, as well as help with specific tenders.
The ECB's Sustainable Procurement Guideline keeps the environment clean
In 2012 the ECB developed sustainable procurement guidelines aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the products and services it purchases. Support from external providers is crucial to lower the ECB's environmental impact and for the success of its environmental management system.
To give an example, sustainability criteria were also taken into account when selecting the ECB's cleaning contractors, leading to the introduction of many environmentally friendly materials in daily operations. Cleaning companies working for the ECB only use eco-labelled detergents and keep the use of hazardous substances to an absolute minimum. Wherever possible, state of the art mechanical cleaning procedures are preferred to chemical ones and some floors are already polished mechanically, removing the need for detergents. The dosing process has also been optimised to reduce water and detergent consumption.
Carnivorous plants and Australian ladybirds have been introduced as an alternative method of localised indoor pest control. All substances and techniques, as well as green care, must always be approved before being used on site. ECB staff continue to visit trade fairs and monitor industry news to find out about new environmentally friendly cleaning techniques.
Urban agriculture at the Council
In 2018 Council's Catering Unit launched an initiative to plant culinary herbs for use in cooking. What is the idea behind this initiative? There is often no need for produce to travel long distances. Today, people are increasingly concerned about the origin of their food and prefer to eat locally grown produce. Urban agriculture encourages people to grow produce for their own or local consumption and promote sustainable and organic farming practices. In the end, it has a positive impact on health, the environment and the local economy! The following nine culinary herbs were planted here this autumn: rosemary lemon thyme and common thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory, sage, horseradish and laurel. For the moment, the garden consists of five raised beds, each of which is one metre square. If all goes well, a further 19 species, including parsley, chervil, basil, mint and coriander, will be planted in the spring. In compliance with the standards for organic food, no chemical pesticides will be used in the growing and processing of the plants. To begin with, the herbs will be used for protocol (official) meals, but the aim is to extend their use to other catering services in the future.
For reasons of practicality and hours of sunlight, the herbs have been planted next to the EMAS office on level 04 of the Justus Lipsius building. In November 2018, a sixth planter was given to the EMAS team, which launched a call for volunteers among the building unit staff. Eight gardeners volunteered, got their own parcel and planted the vegetable of their choice for their own consumption (aromatic herbs, winter salad and other condiments). The results of the planting and the harvest are awaited with great expectation next spring. This pilot project could be extended to other staff members if it is a success.
CharITy – preventing waste while supporting good causes
Eurhope is a non-profit association launched in 2008 by a group of ECB employees. It is open to anyone who wishes to support people needing help, such as victims of wars or natural disasters, people in poverty or victims of epidemics.
One of Eurhope’s recent fundraising projects was the CharITy initiative, organised together with colleagues from the ECB’s Directorate General Information Systems to act against the waste of older but still functioning IT equipment.
Eurhope volunteers received from the IT department around 250 laptops plus a number of printers, mice and power cords decommissioned by the ECB. The volunteers cleaned and refurbished the equipment before either giving it to ECB colleagues in return for a donation, or directly donating it to charities. Some of the laptops were even personally delivered by ECB colleagues to a school in Zimbabwe! Overall, this activity raised funds of over €100,000, which were donated in equal shares to the charity projects supported by Eurhope.
Employee's involvement at the European Parliament
In 2014, the governance structure of the Environmental Management System was improved to better meet the challenges of the future. Each Directorate-General has now one Environmental Management Officer (EMO) responsible for the implementation of the Environmental Management System in their respective Directorate-General. Each EMO has created a network within their respective DG to propose, set up and implement initiatives and actions at their DG levels. All Directorates Generals and units are then involved in the process of setting up the actions gathered in the EMAS action plans. Within their competencies, they could further improve the environmental performance.
A top priority of European Parliament`s Environmental Management System (EMS) is to involve as much staff as possible to continuously improve environmental performance. The EMAS Unit invites all staff to participate in awareness-raising activities, such as Green-, Mobility- and Waste Week events, to participate in specific working groups (as expert members/chairs), such as Waste Committee, Working Group on Green Public Procurement or Sustainable Mobility. Award competitions, such as European Parliament`s "Eco Champion", are launched to increase attractiveness of participation in the EMS. A further example of good staff involvement are the internal environmental audits, where a pool of volunteers from all DGs is specially trained as internal environmental auditors, who audit different services and DGs in accordance with the EMAS requirements. Some colleagues from EMAS network are also the initiators of a huge annual collection and donation of toys, clothes, school material and kitchen utensils for charity organisations, serving a dual purpose: reuse of products and support for people in need. In 2016, 70m3 was collected and sent to charity organizations in Brussels and the equivalent of 2 vans in Luxembourg.
EMAS Ambassadors at the Commission – Leading by example…
All started in 2013, when the EMAS Team put together a common declaration video from different levels of staff, in order to visibly demonstrate the strong Commission's commitment -at all levels- towards environmental goals and objectives. The guest-star of the video was Vice President Maros Šefčovič. The EMAS Ambassadors' group was then launched, consisting of committed environmentally conscious colleague with "one voice and one goal" to decrease Commission's environmental impact… the EMAS way!
During 2014-2017, many more colleagues joined the group, including several EC managers who "walk the talk" through their personal environmental commitments at professional and personal level. Overall, the members of the EMAS Ambassadors' group actively support the annual environmental campaigns via promotional videos, articles, participation to conferences/workshops and much more.
In the context of the European Week for Waste Reduction 2016, the new EMAS Ambassadors - from Brussels and Luxembourg - shared their examples of eco-friendly behaviour both at work and at home. As a result, four inspirational videos were produced with the support and participation of several enthusiastic volunteers on using fewer plastic bottles, reducing food waste and paper consumption and one titled "less is better". The videos have been quite a hit– being viewed by nearly 2,000 colleagues.
The continuous and tangible support of the EMAS Ambassadors demonstrates that Commission's staff could also become "Change Agents" for a better future for the next generations.
Urban gardens Nature in the office - DG Agriculture (AGRI), European Commission
How can you bring together living together, engagement, wellbeing at work and biodiversity? The colleagues from DG Agriculture (AGRI) have the answer: they have created something unique in the Commission - an eco-friendly urban vegetable garden.
Since 2014 about thirty colleagues have organised to cultivate their plants, without pesticides and with their own compost-based fertilisers. Three years and some seasons later, the garden has developed and turned into a sustainable project with real results. It brings together all the colleagues working on the project, irrespective of job title or grade; it helps newcomers to integrate socially, colleagues to build relationships, share skills and talents (animation, coordination, organisation, etc.); and it is also helping colleagues express their commitment towards their DG.
Gardening has great benefits, both mentally and physically, all the AGRI gardeners agree.
A similar vegetable garden project has been announced for the J-70 building (DG EAC), and other DGs are encouraged to follow the example. All it takes is a gardening tray to start the experiment.
The European institutions' EMAS news
Extension of the EMAS family among EU Institutions!
How EMAS has been extended among the EU Institutions and agencies? Let’s find out through an interview with Elisabetta Tonin who recently joined the EMAS corporate team at DG HR, European Commission.
How many EU Institution and Agencies are now EMAS Registered?
The Commission was the first EU Institution to register under EMAS already in 2005, and currently there are 17 EU Institutions and bodies which are EMAS-registered! A big success! And we are welcoming more and more institutions every year in our family. During the last year we had 5 new entries, the newest ones being the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in Paris, presenting their experience at the next GIME meeting!
Another EU jargon abbreviation, can you explain to us what GIME is?
GIME is the Interinstitutional Group for Environmental Management, it was created to exchange environmental best-practices in line with the EU Green Deal towards a climate neutral Europe by 2050. The group had been rather inactive for 2 years due to the pandemic and lack of resources, but it has recently been revamped and now we’re experiencing a very high participation and interest from many EU institutions all over Europe.
Which topics do you discuss, or which activities do you organize within the GIME?
We discuss green “hot” topics like the calculation of the environmental impact of telework, the reduction of emissions related to business travel, the biodiversity enhancement, energy saving measures, carbon removals/carbon offsetting, etc... Every institution brings to the table their internal discussions, perplexities and new measures in place in order to keep the interinstitutional dialogue alive. Moreover, the "core” of the GIME members organise common communication and staff awareness actions, such as the Interinstitutional VeloMai promoting sustainable commuting among their staff under the motto “Cycling for Peace” and supporting Ukraine. The highlight is, of course, the organisation of the Interinstitutional EMAS Days which involved more than 600 EMAS practitioners and a group of eco-volunteers during the 2022 edition. This was a unique opportunity to share environmental best practices and know-hows acquired by the EMAS pioneers. Have a look at the relevant e-poster and e-programme to get a glimpse of what it was all about...
Why do you think interest and participation in green aspects has increased?
Air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, energy are all urgent topics to be addressed all over Europe. A change of direction is urgently needed from all of us, and, of course, the European institutions are frontrunners of the transition towards a climate neutral society and want to lead by example..
How can we stay updated on interinstitutional dialogue?
You can regularly consult this detailed website or write to us at EC-EMAS@ec.europa.eu for more information. Fresh ideas and initiatives are always welcome!
EU Institutions and bodies participate in first purely digital Earth Hour 2020
On Saturday, 28 March, between 20.30 and 21.30, 34 Europeans Institutions and bodies (6 new ones in relation to 2019), will symbolically switch off the lights on the facades of their main buildings (besides any security and legal compliance restrictions). Earth Hour, a WWF initiative, is now one of the world's largest grassroots movements for the environment, this year celebrating its 13th anniversary (see video).
In view of the ongoing health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, the Earth Hour global organising team is recommending all participants to celebrate Earth Hour purely digitally this year. There are still many ways to take part online or at home and show your support for the planet on and around the Hour.
But most of the European institutions already go far "beyond the hour" by implementing the environmental management system EMAS and/or ISO 14001, which continuously reduces their environmental impact throughout the year. Moreover, they exchange environmental best-practices striving for environmental excellence via interinstitutional environmental management groups (GIME and Greening Network), in line with the EU Green Deal towards a climate neutral Europe by 2050.
What is the Commission doing to reduce its own carbon footprint?
In order to reduce its environmental impact and to lead by example, the European Commission has been the first EU Institution to be EMAS-registered already in 2005. The system now covers the eight main sites of the Commission in Europe, located in seven Member States. This represents about 35,000 persons and 1.6 Million square meters. In Brussels, where the Commission has long-term verified data, the results per capita show the following changes between 2005 and 2018: Buildings energy consumption reduced by 65% representing cumulative savings exceeding EUR 110 Million; Carbon dioxide emissions from buildings reduced by 87%; Per km vehicle fleet CO2 emissions (manufacturer specifications) reduced by 53%; Water use reduced by 61%; Paper use reduced by 71%; Non-hazardous waste reduced by 28%. For more information regarding Commission’s environmental performance in relation to the 2014-2020 environmental objectives. The Commission's EMAS Steering Committee adopted in January 2020 a Global Action Plan containing 232 ongoing or new actions addressing resource use (energy, water, paper), carbon dioxide emissions, waste and biodiversity amongst others. Notwithstanding this impressive performance, the Commission is keen to reduce its environmental impact and to lead by example. As such, it will present in 2020 a comprehensive action plan to implement for itself the principles and recommendations presented in the Green Deal with the objective of becoming climate neutral itself by 2030.
More information on the EMAS in EU Institutions webpage on Europa including EU Institutions’ EMAS stories and best-practices.
List of participating EU Institutions and bodies: the European Commission (EC), the European Parliament (EP), the Council's General Secretariat (GSC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CDJ), the European External Action Service (in Brussels), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Ombudsman's (EO), the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CDT), the European Training Foundation (ETF), the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking (ECSEL-JU), the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Fisheries Control Agency to join Institutions and Agencies (EFCA), the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (F4E), the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), the European Banking Authority (EBA), the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR-JU).
The first "Interinstitutional EMAS Week": Lessons-learned and the way forward…
From 23 to 27 May 2016, just before the Green Week 2016, the Commission, the Parliament, the General Secretariat of the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, joined forces by organising the first Inter-institutional EMAS Week in Brussels. "Institutions invest for a greener future" was dedicated to sustainable infrastructures, alternative mobility, green purchasing and staff involvement. A unique opportunity to share environmental best practices and know-how. The programme included thematic debates, info-fair stands, film screenings, staff forums, photography and drawing competitions and much more. The interinstitutional EMAS week culminated with the EU Open Days event on Saturday 28 May 2016. For an insider's view about the events of the week, have a look at the special of the EMAS Reflex and the relevant video (below). Moreover, see video by European Parliament's Vice President Ulrike Lunacek concerning the event. All EMAS teams agreed that it was an experiment worth repeating, so there will be another interinstitutional EMAS week next year!