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Sustainable and responsible business

Industrial emissions

Thousands of enterprises across the EU are covered by the authorisation scheme introduced by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. It aims to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution at source, through the efficient use of natural resources and the establishment of an EU wide integrated permitting system.

The IPPC Directive represents a departure from the traditional command and control approach towards a more integrated and flexible approach as it does not prescribe the technology to achieve the desired environmental outcome. Emissions reduction and environmental improvements are required, on the basis of what is achievable with the best techniques available in the individual industrial sectors falling within the scope of the Directive.

The Directive on Industrial Emissions, which includes a recast of the IPPC Directive, simplifies and increases coherence of industrial emissions legislation while merging the IPPC Directive with six other existing Directives; it is one of the cornerstones of the European Union's environmental legislation. The IPPC Directive's enhanced flexibility allows for the diversity of industrial sectors and geographical conditions to be taken into account regarding, notably, the specified requirements for granting IPPC permits and modified emission limits.

The concept of BAT and the role of BREFs

The Directive uses the concept of Best Available Techniques (BAT) as the central tool to achieve a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole. Emission limits and operating conditions contained in the IPPC authorisation permits are based on BAT, taking into account the technical characteristics of an installation, its geographic location and the local environmental conditions. The introduction of BAT is designed to achieve the greatest possible environmental benefit in the most cost-efficient way for industry.

A key feature of the IPPC Directive is sharing information on best available techniques between European Member States and the industries falling within the scope of the Directive. The European IPPC-Bureau produces BAT reference documents (BREFs) for each individual sector covered.

These EU-level reference documents, which contain technical and economic information, are intended to bring a more coherent approach across the Union by the authorities responsible for issuing the necessary permits. BREFs also help to create a level playing field for industry and to exchange information on the best available techniques identified.

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