Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Environmental Performance Card for Companies Launched

Ahmed Shaaban

DUBAI — Industrial companies can now volunteer to have their environmental performance assessed under a certificate scheme launched on Tuesday by the Ministry of Environment
and Water.

The UAE Minister of Environment and Water, Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, announced a 100-mark Environmental Performance Card (EPC) certificate to check the industries’ commitment to health, safety andenvironment policies.

“The door is now open for nearly 4,500 institutions under the industrial sector to voluntarily seek local accreditation in terms of their environmental performance,” Dr Fahd said.

Noting that several workshops had earlier been held to raise the industrial institutions’ awareness about the certificate, senior environmental researcher Yahya Al Balushi said the card, to be renewed on an annual basis following several inspections, may be mandatory later.

“The EPC is meant to be optional just like international accreditation certificates, ISO for instance, to smoothly help industrial institutions here take responsibility toward environmental protection and prevention of pollution,” Al Balushi said.

“As per the UAE sustainable environmental strategy, industrial institutions need to abide by the regulations of the Federal Environmental Law for the Protection and the Development of the Environment No 24/1999.”

Dr Fahd then said the card will add to the institutions’ marketing benefits, and show their adherence to the set environmental goals on local, regional and international levels.

Observing that the move will create the best competitive opportunities for the industrial processes and products in the market, Dr Fahd said the certificate includes the introduction of cleaner production concepts.

“The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to international standards, increase of production efficiency in industrial operations, and prevention of adverse public health risk effects are also stipulated,” he said.

The minister then pointed out that the chemical, cement, plastic and metal industries shall be given further attention for being more extensive and posing risk to public health.

Khaleej Times reported this month regarding the residents’ concerns about gas odour originating from the Hamriya Free Zone though the zone has denied the issue.

Meanwhile, the UAE cabinet had in May 2008 issued a law to prevent pollution caused by stone crushers atthe quarries.

The 103 crushers operating in the country, mostly in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, have been granted a one year deadline, ending in mid-July 2009, to make improvements, after numerous complaints of asthma and respiratory problems from the residents there.

The minister then indicated that the EPC-granting mechanism will make comprehensive assessments of environmental elements.

“A specialised EPC team is to review the content of the environmental permit obtained from competent authority and environmental impact assessment (EIA) study conducted by industrial institutions in the country,” he said.

“Self-inspection polices and procedure in work place should be adopted as well, let alone management of chemical substances, integrated management of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, treatment and reuse of domestic and industrial wastewaters, noise, odour hazard and nuisance control.”

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