05/06/2018 – News / Environment / Emissions / Alpheus Environmental / EU

Experts highlight far-reaching impact of new EU emission rules on industry

A leading water and wastewater management company is today warning that thousands of British companies face potential fines and disciplinary action, including the closing of facilities highlighted, due to the far-reaching effects of the EU’s new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).


Experts at Alpheus Environmental – a subsidiary of Anglian Water Group – have warned that many companies are simply unaware of the extent and potential impact of new tightened rules. These are prescribed in ‘best available techniques’ or BREF document requirements – set to come into force later this year.


Under the existing EU Industrial Emissions Directive, companies are obliged to reduce harmful industrial emissions, including emissions of wastewater and generation of waste – and those rules are set to be tightened this year. The ‘polluter pays’ principle also puts the onus on companies to upgrade their facilities and for them to pay for any damage done to the environment.


Which industries will be hardest hit?


EU regulators are currently drafting a series of best practices that will heighten already-stringent obligations on wastewater and generation of waste for the decade ahead. It has however raised concerns that very few in the industry are aware of this.


Despite Brexit, industry experts believe that such regulations will still be maintained in UK law.


Experts anticipate that the new EU guidance documents will include increased responsibilities in the design, construction, and operation of industrial facilities, specifically including water treatment. 


Companies in water-intensive industries such as food & beverage, electronics, leisure, alcohol, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals will be most affected by the new responsibilities.


Broadened scope of regulation


The new rules will serve to integrate and strengthen existing legislation, broaden the scope of industrial activities regulated, establish and prescribe the technologies required in each sector to reduce emissions, and require companies to establish a base line of emission report upon which licence thresholds will be set and adjusted. 


It is widely agreed within the water sector that Brexit will likely not affect the relevant legislation in the UK, which it implemented along with other EU member states after the current EU Industrial Emissions Directive came into effect in 2013.


“Despite the fact that this legislation has been in place since 2013, the extent of the new obligations are only now becoming apparent as sectoral guidelines come into place,” observed Water management expert Declan Maguire, Operations Director at Alpheus Environmental. “Companies that were previously IED-compliant will suddenly become non-compliant as they fail to achieve the new standards. If companies are not proactively establishing baseline reports of emissions and addressing deficiencies, it will lead to penalties and ultimately facility closures, and no business can sustain this”  



Rising competition for water resources


The new EU guideline documents reflect the need to protect global water systems in the coming decades. Increasing demand intensity for domestic and industrial water use will see rising competition for water resources and therefore higher costs. This will lead to the need for companies to adopt more cost-effective water management, including water recycling, water efficiency measures, and waste minimisation.


“In order to be compliant with emerging regulatory requirements but also cost-efficient in the face of increasing pressures on global water resources, companies will need to look at how they can ensure their water management continues to be fit for purpose,” Mr Maguire continued. “We are seeing a rapid shift towards a ‘polluter pays’ approach to water, so companies will need to be prepared to minimise their wasted water or face rapidly increasing costs.


“With water technology developing at a rapid pace and the requirement on organisations to seek out the most efficient means of delivering water treatment, the process of managing water in-house will also become progressively more inefficient and financially unsustainable, so I expect we will see more companies looking to outsource their water management to specialised experts.”

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