Environmental Management Tools

The "Environmental Management Tools" fact sheet addresses the compliance with environmental management systems as well as with the European Union Ecolabel, reporting on the number of organisations that have implemented environmental management systems in accordance with ISO 14001 or the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), and companies that have products certified with the EU Ecolabel.


There are several environmental management tools available to the economic agents, some for organisations (environmental management systems) and others for products (environmental labelling), which can be voluntarily used as a way to ensure a better environmental performance of the organisations as well as compliance with regulatory provisions.

The application of these tools has been a determining factor for the performance of organisations that seek to minimise their environmental impacts by adopting a set of sustainable practices that allow them to reduce the risks and costs associated with their activities while complying with the requirements to which they are bound by law. The voluntary adoption of a responsible attitude towards the communities in which they operate allows organisations to significantly improve their perception of an increasingly aware audience predisposed to investing in products with better environmental performance, resulting in an increase in their competitiveness on the market.

Environmental management tools such as the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the ISO 14001 Environmental Certification and the Ecolabel are essential in pursuing the objective of achieving sustainable development across the European Union, also contributing to the objective of achieving sustainable production and consumption, proposed in the 7th Environment Action Programme, called "Living well, within the limits of our planet."

By applying these tools, organisations show their commitment to taking on a responsibility that is essential for effectively integrating an environmental culture into their planning and management.

The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is aimed at all types of organisations interested in improving their environmental performance, while promoting greater transparency in the provision of environmental information to the general public and other interested parties.

The ISO 14001 certification allows companies and organisations to show their commitment to protecting the environment, contributing to the strengthening of their institutional image. The international recognition associated with the ISO 14001 standard is prestigious for any organisation, since, in addition to attesting the high level of environmental compliance, it constitutes significant added value in complying with environmental legislation and reducing the risk of sanctions and lawsuits.

The European Union Ecolabel is a market tool that aims to stimulate the supply and demand of products or services with a low environmental impact, contributing to the promotion of a more sustainable development model. It allows the manufacturer or the seller to communicate the good environmental performance of the product or service and guides the buyer in his market choices, informing him about the products or services that have better environmental performance.

The Ecolabel certification system is voluntary and applicable to products or services which, at the same time:

  • Have significant environmental impacts on one or more stages of the product or service lifecycle;
  • Have a potential for environmental improvement;
  • Represent an important volume of sales and trade in the domestic market;
  • include in their sales volume an important part intended for final consumption or use.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and it is updated on an annual basis.

Objectives and targets: 

The main objectives of the application of environmental management tools are:

  • To promote the eco-efficiency of organisations;
  • To encourage the adoption of more sustainable production and consumption patterns;
  • To stimulate the supply and demand of products, activities and services with reduced environmental impact;
  • To improve the environmental performance of economic activities and encourage good environmental practices within organisations.
Progress analysis:

At the European Community level, by the end of June 2022, there were 3 999 organisations registered with EMAS. The highest number of registered organisations was recorded in 2011, with around 4 600 registrations. Since then, there has been a decrease in this number.

The loss of attractiveness of EMAS is common to all Member States. Portugal, however, has managed to maintain a top position among its peers, occupying, in June 2022, the 9th place in number of registered organisations, preceded by Slovakia, Poland, Belgium, Cyprus, Austria, Spain, Italy and, with the largest number of registered organisations, Germany.


Last update: 
Tuesday, 25 October, 2022