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The EU has announced new emissions and efficiency standards that will aim to help national authorities to lower the environmental impact of the largest waste treatment installations in the EU, dealing with both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

The new specifications come after a review of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) for Waste Treatment. The review’s BAT conclusions have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Beyond their importance for the European waste treatment sector, these BAT conclusions also play a major role in achieving EU environmental and waste management policy goals. Representing almost 4,000 installations. to drive a sizeable reduction in emissions from the waste treatment sector
While the main aim of these BAT conclusions is to reduce emissions from different waste treatments, other environmental issues – such as energy efficiency, resource efficiency (water consumption, reuse and recovery of materials), prevention of accidents, noise and odour, management of residues – are also covered.
The EU document shows 53 individuel BAT conclusions. Of these, 24 apply to the sector and 29 apply to the most common waste treatments, including mechanical, biological and physico-chemical treatments and treatment of water-based liquid waste.

They also apply to temporary waste storage and independent waste water treatment plants whose main share of treated effluent originates in waste treatment installations.
The BAT conclusions include BAT-associated emission levels (BAT-AELs) which have the potential, through their translation into emission limits, to drive a sizeable reduction in emissions from the waste treatment sector.
They include for the first time at EU level BAT-AELs for emissions to water and to air from mechanical treatments of waste (shredders) and from aerobic treatment of waste.
The existing waste treatment installations (i.e. first permitted before the publication of the BAT conclusions) have four years to comply with the new standards. New installations (i.e. first permitted after the publication of the BAT conclusions) need to comply immediately with the new requirements.
BAT conclusions aim at achieving a high level of protection of the environment as a whole, considering the economic and technical viability.
In addition to covering the emission levels and other environmental performance aspects of several (production) techniques, they include standards for how the technology is used and the way in which the installation is designed, built, maintained, operated and decommissioned.
The Seville process defines the production and the adoption of the BAT Reference Document and its subsequent conclusions.
The drafting of the BAT conclusions has been led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) through its European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Bureau (EIPPCB) and drawn up with the involvement of experts from industry, EU public authorities, environmental NGOs and other services of the European Commission.
The European Commission has adopted the revised BAT conclusions for waste treatment after the positive vote of the representatives of the EU Member States in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) Article 75 Committee. A framework which regulates around 50,000 industrial installations across the EU.
The EIPPCB is currently reviewing or drawing up BAT reference documents for the following sectors: food, drink and milk; waste incineration; surface treatment using organic solvents (including wood and wood products preservation with chemicals); ferrous metals processing; textiles; and common waste gas treatment in the chemical sector.


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