When an organization decides to strengthen their environmental performance, the start can be challenging. To prioritise actions and to ensure continuous environmental improvement, an environmental management system is needed. However, committing to it requires new sustainable solutions which can at times need bold decision making.
The five success stories that have been published, feature VO, a communication group based in Brussels, the stonemason company Glöckner Natursteine from Germany, the Institut Català de la Salut (ISC), the biggest public health care institution in Catalonia, ITZELAZPI, a Public Company managing the Basque Government’s telecommunications infrastructure, and the Museu de la Vida Rural, a cultural center dedicated to the preservation of the memory of the rural world, also located in Catalonia. Some have registered more than a decade ago, others have joined the EMAS family only a year ago, but all have in common that joining EMAS has helped them to structure existing environmental practices and to systematically identify strong points and those that need enhancement. Especially for the bigger organisations such as the ICS, with hundreds of health centers and other institutions, implementing EMAS unified their environmental strategy.
For these organisations committing to a voluntary environmental management scheme originated from recognizing their power to be part in the transition toward a sustainable economy and society. For the VO Group this means translating their values into solid commitments. Glöckner Natursteine has defined their goals according to the ethos of sustainable growth, which they define as “being economically successful, while keeping negative effects as low as possible”. It implies to have a closer look at what seems to be the most economical at first glance and to include the ecological and social impacts as important building blocks. For the stonemason company this meant to replace Asian stones with European ones even though it appeared to be a competitive disadvantage. Nowadays they describe it as their “unique selling point”.
Being EMAS registered means to continuously improve your environmental performance. Consequently, organisations have to be open for change and exploring unknown fields. This can feel scary; however, it also provides room for new ideas, new partnerships with inspiring initiatives and creativity. On their path with EMAS the five organisations have all been engaging with this spirit. For example, the Museu de la Vida Rural has been teaming up with an organic coffee supplier for their bar service (which in general has been designed under circularity criteria) who removes the coffee remains that are then used to prepare substrate for mushroom cultivation. Another interesting project has been launched by the ICS: The ‘Round trip textiles’ project reuses the textile waste generated in the laundry that serves the ICS to replace plastic bags for dispensing products in pharmacies and for transporting linens and laundry.
Apart from the ecological benefits that came through the adoption of EMAS, the success stories also report about social initiatives. Understanding that a sustainable transformation also involves our society, the organisations emphasize the importance of communicating their actions to the public and involving the people they deal with. Furthermore, the telecommunication company ITELAZPI invests into its surrounding mountain area and enhances its attractiveness to the public. Turning dismantled telecommunication centers into recreational areas for hikers is one of their projects. They also celebrate ‘zuhaitz eguna’, open days for children and citizens where more than 4,000 trees have been planted.
It shows that EMAS has been of added value for the five organisations. Becoming a frontrunner for positive change through EMAS holds many advantages. Investing in energy efficiency and carbon neutrality comes with long-term cost savings. Furthermore, acting according to your values gives meaning to your work and increases the credibility and trustworthiness of your company.
To find out more about the successful practices of these EMAS organisations please click here.
- 23. jaanuar 2023
- Keskkonna peadirektoraat