External Environmental Audit Successfully Passed
GEMÜ GmbH & Co. KG of Ingelfingen-Criesbach, Germany is certified according to the international environmental standard DIN EN ISO 14001 and registered according to the requirements of the Europe-wide EMASIII Regulation. The company's compliance with the aforementioned standards was confirmed by an external, independent environmental auditor as part of an evaluation of the environmental performance of the company. The environmental auditor, an accredited member of the German Accreditation Society for Environmental Auditors, reserved particular praise for the well-documented environmental management system of the company and for the company's clearly understandable environmental declaration.
Active environmental protection has been a part of the corporate philosophy at GEMÜ for many years. "As an industrial company, we bear a special responsibility to protect our environment. That is why sustainable manufacturing and production are an integral part of business at GEMÜ", explains qualified engineer Jürgen Kerl, environmental officer at the multinational specialist in valves, measurement and control systems. It is a declared goal of the company to continuously improve environmental performance in the long-term.
- Environmental management system defines responsibilities and procedures
The company has integrated all of its environmentally-relevant information in a detailed environmental management system (EMS), which is both clearly set out and easily understandable. This system defines, for example, who is responsible for what action, how staff should behave in certain situations and which procedures should be used.
The EMS is part of the integrated management system. This also incorporates the quality management system. "In this way, we are able to ensure that our commitment to the environment reaches the same high quality standards that customers expect from our products and services", explains Jürgen Kerl. The EMS takes a long-term view and is updated on an ongoing basis. During the course of annual audits, checks are made to determine whether the specifications are still appropriate or need to be adapted to fit the current situation.
- Commitment above and beyond legal requirements
GEMÜ has decided to implement the voluntary environmental management system known as the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, EMAS III. The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme is a tool developed by the European Union for the purpose of sustainably improving the environmental performance of businesses and of allowing businesses to present their performance in this area to the public. EMAS is more than a simple management system to DIN EN ISO 14001. The system is actually performance orientated. It requires that companies improve their environmental performance above and beyond the requirements in the applicable environmental laws. Furthermore, EMAS also requires that employees be involved in decisions on environmentally-relevant topics. The aim of this is to encourage employees to identify with the continuous improvement of the company's environmental performance. Jürgen Kerl interprets the requirements of EMAS as follows: "Environmental management should be lived by the staff and should not take the form of unread manuals gathering dust in a filing cabinet."
- Environmental declaration formulates environmental objectives
With the decision to implement EMAS came the obligation for GEMÜ to produce an environmental declaration. This clearly and understandably presents the company's environmentally relevant activities and environmental data. It clearly describes the company's consumption of power, water, fuel, chemicals and other substances and materials as well as how the company deals with waste and wastewater, complies with legal requirements, deals with emergencies such as fire or flood and how the company communicates with the public. Furthermore, the company itself is also presented, along with its products and services, environmental policy and the environmental management system. "The crucial factor is that the environmental declaration formulates very specific environmental objectives for the future, which the company then has to measure itself by", says the GEMÜ environmental officer.
- Direct and indirect environmental aspects taken into account
The company undertook a lot of preparatory work for the environmental declaration. "Although we had a great deal of data and facts in our possession, these had to be meaningfully structured in accordance with the requirements of EMAS and set against a timescale", explains Jürgen Kerl. A distinction also had to be made between direct and indirect environmental aspects. The direct aspects refer to the immediate environmental effects of the company's activities, products and services. These range from the use of land, consumption of raw materials, power and water through to the production of waste as well as the generation of wastewater and emissions during the transport of goods. Indirect environmental aspects affect the environment in ways that the company can only influence to a limited extent. These include transport, packaging, the production and extraction of (raw) materials, the environmental performance of suppliers and service providers such as cleaning firms, advertising agencies or caterers as well as the environmental behaviour of customers.
- Sustainable improvement of environmental situation
Following on from validation by the auditors, GEMÜ has now been entered in an official register and received a unique European registration number. The registration certificate was issued by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Heilbronn-Franken. All of the relevant environmental authorities are involved in the registration process. This ensures that the company has not infringed upon any environmental regulations. Registration entitles the company to use the EMAS logo. This is reserved exclusively for participants in EMAS. The quality of the EMAS regulation is monitored by the EU member states.
For GEMÜ, validation in accordance with EMAS III has a range of benefits: operating costs are reduced noticeably, productivity improves and environmental effects are minimized. "With this scheme, we are helping to sustainably improve the environmental situation and quality of life", says Jürgen Kerl. The EMAS logo indicates that GEMÜ is environmentally aware. This also improves the company's image and increases the company's attractiveness as an employer.
The environmental declaration, the registration certificate and the environmental certificate are available for download from www.gemue.de. (GEMÜ Gebr. Müller Apparatebau GmbH & Co. KG)