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Best Environmental Management Practice

Organisations of all sizes and kinds have a large scope for improving their environmental performance. With motivations ranging from eco-efficiency to reputation and concerns about the sustainability of their business, many organisations try to reduce their impact on the environment.

To help organisations to reach such objective, the JRC identified, evaluated and developed best environmental management practices (BEMPs) for 11 different sectors in close co-operation with the stakeholders concerned. To do so, the JRC followed the so-called frontrunner approach, i.e. it studied and analysed techniques, measures or actions that were already implemented by the organisations within the sector and were the most advanced in terms of environmental performance in each of many areas, such as energy efficiency, resource efficiency, emissions, but also supply chain management. The results of this work were 11 JRC Science for Policy reports whereas their contents were fed into the technical annexes of the adopted Commission Decisions 2021/2053, 2021/2054, 2020/519, 2019/61, 2019/62, 2019/63, 2018/813, 2017/1508, 2016/611 and 2015/801. The latter adopted Commission Decisions represent the Sectoral Reference Documents (SRDs) on BEMPs.

This activity is part of the European Commission's work to implement the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), a voluntary framework for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. Within this framework, the EU decided in 2009 to promote best environmental management practice, by developing SRDs. The developed documents are relevant for 11 sectors, and for more than 3,800 EMAS registered organisations and 12,000 EMAS registered sites; in parallel, non-EMAS registered organisations and sites, which wish to improve their environmental performance, can take inspiration from the developed reports.

EMAS and the promotion of best environmental management practice

The EMAS scheme has evolved through time. In its latest revision, it promotes best environmental management practice, thanks to the development of Sectoral Reference Documents which EMAS registered organisations must take into account when assessing their environmental performance.

Priority sectors

JRC Science for Policy reports and Sectoral Reference Documents on best environmental management practice have been elaborated for a number of very different priority sectors as included in a European Commission Communication in 2011. The priority sectors are:

Supporting all actors within the sectors

The documents on best environmental management practice are aimed at supporting environmental improvement efforts of all actors within the sector they address. They are not only for EMAS registered organisations, but for all those who intend to improve their environmental performance, with or without an environmental management system.

Stakeholders involvement

Sectoral Reference Documents are developed involving relevant stakeholders.

Sectoral Reference Documents and JRC Reports

For each of the priority sectors above mentioned, the JRC has produced two documents describing the identified BEMPs: a JRC Science for Policy Report and a concise Sectoral Reference Document (SRD).


Related content

To find out more about the work carried out for specific sectors, visit the relevant pages:

Relevant EU policy

- Sustainable Consumption and Production policies:

- The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS):

- The EMAS regulations:


For any question, feel free to contact the JRC EMAS SRD team. The best way to contact the JRC EMAS SRD team is sending an e-mail to

This work was carried out by the Circular Economy and Industrial Leadership Unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission in-house science and knowledge service. The Circular Economy and Industrial Leadership unit is based in Seville, Spain.