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Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)

Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)

1. Issued by / date / date of implementation

European parliament and Council / The IED was adopted on 24 November 2010. / It is based on a Commission proposal recasting 7 previously existing directives (including in particular the IPPC Directive) following an extensive review of the policy. The IED entered into force on 6 January 2011 and had to be transposed by Member States by 7 January 2013.

2. Type of legislation

European Union Directive, to be implemented by all Member States by transposition of the legislation and enforcement with their means.

3. General purpose

Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and the Council on industrial emissions (the Industrial Emissions Directive or IED) is the main EU instrument regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations.

The IED aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). Around 50,000 installations undertaking the industrial activities listed in Annex I of the IED are required to operate in accordance with a permit (granted by the authorities in the Member States). This permit should contain conditions set in accordance with the principles and provisions of the IED.

The IED is based on several pillars, in particular (1) an integrated approach, (2) use of best available techniques, (3) flexibility, (4) inspections and (5) public participation.

The integrated approach means that the permits must take into account the whole environmental performance of the plant, covering e.g. emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure.
The permit conditions including emission limit values must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). In order to define BAT and the BAT-associated environmental performance at EU level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts from Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This work is co-ordinated by the European IPPC Bureau at the EU Joint Research Centre in Seville (Spain). This process results in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs); the BAT conclusions contained are adopted by the Commission as Implementing Decisions. The IED requires that these BAT conclusions are the reference for setting permit conditions.

For certain activities, i.e. large combustion plants, waste incineration and co-incineration plants, solvent using activities and titanium dioxide production, the IED also sets EU wide emission limit values for selected pollutants.

The IED allows competent authorities some flexibility to set less strict emission limit values. This is possible only in specific cases where an assessment shows that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to the geographical location or the local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation. The competent authority shall always document its justification for granting such derogations.

Furthermore, Chapter III of the IED on large combustion plants includes certain flexibility instruments (Transitional National Plan, limited lifetime derogation, etc.).

The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member States shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit to take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria.
The IED ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to permit applications, permits and the results of the monitoring of releases.

The Directive applies to the following categories of activities, mentioned in Annex I, which are generally known to be related with a high pollution potential:

Energy industries,
Production and processing of metals,
Mineral industry,
Chemical industry,
Waste management,
Other activities

In Annex I other activities are listed: production of pulp, paper and cardboard, pre-treatment or dyeing of fibers/textiles, tanning of hides and skins, slaughterhouses, treatment and processing for the production of food from animal/vegetable raw materials (other than milk), disposal or recycling of animal carcases and animal waste, intensive rearing of poultry or pigs, surface treatment with use of organic solvents, production of carbon (hard-burnt coal) or electrographite by incineration / graphitisation.

4. Substitution relevant paragraphs

Article 12 states what information should be included in the applications for permits. Point k) of the article requires that applications include a description of ‘the main alternatives to the proposed technology, techniques and measures.

Article 58 “Substitution of hazardous substances” states, that substances or mixtures which, because of their content of volatile organic compounds classified as carcinogens, mutagens, or toxic to reproduction under Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, are assigned or need to carry the hazard statements H340, H350, H350i, H360D or H360F, shall be replaced, as far as possible by less harmful substances or mixtures within the shortest possible time.

Article 64 “Exchange of information on substitution of organic solvents” states that the commission shall organise an exchange of information with the Member States, the industry concerned and non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection on the use of organic solvents and their potential substitutes and techniques which have the least potential effects on air, water, soil, ecosystems and human health. The exchange of information shall be organised on all of the following:
(a) fitness for use;
(b) potential effects on human health and occupational exposure in particular;
(c) potential effects on the environment;
(d) the economic consequences, in particular the costs and benefits of the options available.

ANNEX III presents the considerations to be taken into account when determining best available techniques and mentions at point 2) that the use of ‘less hazardous substances’ should be considered

5. Assessment of relevance for substitution

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that installations are operated in such a way that all the appropriate preventive measures are taken against pollution, in particular through application of the best available techniques, which as stated by the Directive, may include the use of less hazardous substances.

Enterprises have to comply with the BATs for their activity as stated in their authorization. Substitution may be included as a measure in the IED authorization, if the local authority considers it necessary for the environment and feasible for the company.

If other type of measures (like air filtering or water treatment are prescribed in the BAT in order to achieve and maintain the emission limit levels) cause high costs, the enterprise may consider substitution as a reasonable alternative solution.

6. Link to the legal text

Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010

7. Further information

EC Environment: The Industrial Emissions Directive

European IPPC Bureau (EIPPCB)

7.1 Studies or publications about the legislation or its impact

Reference documents under the IPPC Directive and the IED

Umweltbundesamt (UBA): BAT reference documents (BREF) in English and German

EIPPCB: BAT reference documents (BREF)

Resumes of BAT reference documents (BREF) in national languages

Reports by the Commission:

  • IED Articles 30(9) and 73 require the Commission to review the need to control emissions from certain types of animal rearing and combustion plants and to report the results. The reviews are available here and the report was adopted by the Commission in May 2013.
  • IED Article 76 requires the Commission to report on the exercise of the power to adopt delegated acts conferred on it. The report was adopted by the Commission in June 2015.
  • IED Article 73 requires the Commission to report on the implementation of the Directive on the basis of information reported by Member States. The first of these reports was adopted by the Commission in December 2017.

Commission documents under IED
The Commission adopted a Guidance document for the exchange of information under IED (Commission Implementing Decision 2012/119/EU). This guidance document lays down rules concerning guidance on the collection of data and on the drawing up of BAT reference documents and on their quality assurance as required by Article 13(3)(c) and (d) of the IED. This guidance can be found in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Last update: 13.02.2020

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