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No. 217/06 | Berlin, 29.08.2006

Environment Ministry (BMU) becomes first German federal ministry to use the EMAS logo

Germany's Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is setting a good example: The BMU has adopted the EMAS eco-management and audit scheme, an exacting European environmental management system, for its Bonn location, thereby becoming Germany's first federal ministry to introduce the system. Today, Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel received the EMAS registration certificate from Dr. Hermann Hüwels, general coordinator for environment, energy and consumer policy of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK), in recognition of the BMU's participation in EMAS. The ministry is now entitled to use the blue-green EMAS logo, which certifies that it has functioning management structures and has voluntarily committed itself to continually improving its own environmental performance.

Federal Environment Minister Gabriel commented: "I trust that this first introduction of EMAS in a federal ministry will set an example that others will feel called on to emulate. With this action, we are following the example of the many companies and other organisations that have voluntarily committed themselves to doing more for the environment than is required by law. To obtain the logo, we have agreed to undergo the required reviews by the environmental verifier. EMAS will help us to identify - professionally, systematically and quickly - those areas in which we can cut costs, i.e. relieve pressure on our budget, and in which we can improve our internal procedures."

In early 2005, the Federal Environment Ministry began to keep records of its internal procedures, energy consumption, waste production and paper consumption. The resulting data was then analysed and assessed, and objectives were set for reducing the ministry's environmental impacts and improving its environmental performance.

The environmental objectives are set forth in the environmental statement. The important measures foreseen in this effort include reducing emissions and use of natural resources and raw materials. The objectives also call for reducing electricity, water and paper consumption. Rail travel is to play a larger role in the ministry's business trips. The environmental statement, which has been reviewed by environmental verifier Michael Hub, makes environmentally relevant procedures transparent.

In addition, the ministry plans to support the EMAS system as such. In the ministry's perspective, the pending amendment of the pertinent EU Regulation needs to significantly increase the incentives for companies and organisations to participate in the system. Additional incentives should include extensive opportunities for using the EMAS logo, in the interest of enhancing public awareness of the system. Discussions to this end are already underway between the Federal Environment Ministry and the EU Commission. In all likelihood, the draft version of the amended EMAS Regulation will be deliberated during the German EU Presidency in 2007.

Note: Background information about EMAS is available at www.emas.de (in German).

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