Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have taken the decision – in some cases long ago – to implement an environmental management system, either in full or in part. There is no detailed listing of options available on the market, nor does any appraisal exist as to the specific advantages and disadvantages of the various systems.
Against this background, the project partners were commissioned to establish transparency, both in scientific and practical terms, in what is at present a very confused field. The key aim of the project was to record and analyse the "low-threshold" environmental management methods practised to date under EMAS and ISO 14001. Not least among its intentions was to identify what factors play a role in the success (or failure) of the various systems. All systems practised in Germany were investigated, along with those considered particularly relevant from other European countries. In addition to an analysis of the existing scientific research and an evaluation of data from the individual system operators, the study also incorporated a questionnaire-based survey and a series of interviews.
The results were evaluated in conjunction with a technical committee, and were discussed at a specialist workshop held in early 2005. In parallel with the scientific analysis and evaluation, a number of brochures were produced, detailing various environmental management methods and supporting the further spread of environmental management among SMEs.