Italy plans new certification to protect the environment

The Environment Pool, part of the Italian Consortium for Insurance and Reinsurance of Liability for Damage to the Environment, has created a new Ambiente Protetto (Protected Environment) certification in collaboration with industry associations.

The certification scheme is voluntary and is available free of charge on the pool’s website. It is intended as a complement to existing schemes and is designed specifically to strengthen risk management and prevention of environmental damage.

Awareness of the need to better protect the environment is growing in Italy and generating healthy discussion in business circles.

Companies are currently preparing for the Carbon Tax – to reduce CO2 emissions, recover and recycle waste, and procure energy from renewable sources. However, environmental damage caused by toxic spills, explosions or contamination continues.

The most recent report from the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research has recorded more than 200 environmental damage assessment assignments in the last two years.

Currently in Italy, the Ministry of the Environment is identified by law as the sole owner of environmental damage action and is responsible for carrying out the appropriate checks and proceeding with any legal or administrative action.

There are already several environmental certifications in Italy and internationally.

Among the best known is ISO14001 that regulates environmental management systems, which are useful tools for measuring and improving the environmental performance of a company.

Another is the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), a voluntary tool created by the European Community to which organisations can adhere to evaluate and improve their environmental performance and provide the public and other interested parties with information on their management.

However, neither ISO14001 nor EMAS provide for specific technical requirements to be respected or implemented. The objectives, even if related to environmental risks, are left to the assessments of the individual company and there are no precise requirements on actions to be taken.

Furthermore, while improving, the sensitivity of Italian companies towards the issue of preventing environmental damage remains relatively low, as is awareness of their own risks.

It was therefore decided that companies needed a specific tool to help identify possible sources of damage and provide guidance about essential requirements to minimise risk. Hence, the creation of the new Ambiente Protetto (Protected Environment) certification by the Environment Pool in collaboration with industry associations.

The first step is the identification of potential risk sources present at the site and the related environmental damage scenarios, of which there are seven: fire and explosion; leakage from underground elements such as tanks and basins; leakage from both underground and above-ground pipelines; leakage from above-ground tanks or basins; spillage or percolation in areas of handling or storage of products or waste; emissions into the atmosphere; and emission of wastewater.

The Environment Pool said that by implementing the scheme, companies will not only develop a more robust environmental protection policy and reduce the risk of damage to the environment and their related legal liability, but also gain a reduction in the policy premium for related coverage.

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