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Industrial Emissions

The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive

Summary of the Directive 1999/13/EC on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations (VOC Solvents Emissions Directive)

The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive is the main policy instrument for the reduction of industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the European Union. It covers a wide range of solvent using activities, e.g. printing, surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products. The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive requires installations in which such activities are applied to comply either with the emission limit values set out in the Directive or with the requirements of the so-called reduction scheme. The Directive sets out emission limit values for VOCs in waste gases and maximum levels for fugitive emissions (expressed as percentage of solvent input) or total emission limit values. The purpose of the reduction scheme is to allow the operator the possibility to achieve by other means emission reductions, equivalent to those achieved if the emission limit values were to be applied. This could be typically achieved by substituting products with a high content of solvents for low-solvent or solvent-free products and changing to solvent free production processes.

New installations have to comply with the requirements of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive at the time they are starting the activity. The final implementation date for existing installations was 31 October 2007.

Legislation

The Original VOC Solvents Emissions Directive has been amended through article 13 of the Paints Directive (Directive 2004/42/EC). The amendment removed a subactivity of "Vehicle Refinishing" ("the coating of road vehicles as defined in Directive 70/156/EEC, or part of them, carried out as part of vehicle repair, conservation or decoration outside of manufacturing installations") from the scope of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive, as the "vehicle refinishing products" fall under the scope of the Paints-Directive (Directive 2004/42/EC). More information on the Paints Directive can be found here.

Find here a summary of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive and the Paints Directive.

Key implementation measures

The Commission is following the implementation of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive in Member States. According to the Directive Member States are obliged to report to the Commission periodically on the implementation of the Directive.

The first reporting period covered the years 2003/2004 and the reports submitted by individual Member States as well as an analysis of the reports by Member States can be found here.

The second reporting period covered the years 2005-2007. The reports submitted by Member States can be found on Reportnet. An analysis of these reports can be found here.

The Commission has been organising an Exchange of Information on Substitution of solvents.  This website also contains links to reports on experiences made by industry, scientists and authorities on substitution of solvents, best practices and common implementation issues of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive.

The Commission has also published a set of Frequently Asked Questions providing guidance for the implementation of the Directive.

In addition, some of the plants covered by the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive are also covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. In these cases, the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive only sets minimum obligations which are not necessarily sufficient to comply with the IPPC Directive. Such compliance may involve more stringent emission limit values, emission limit values for other substances and other media, and other appropriate conditions. Details of emissions from installations falling under both VOC Solvents Emissions Directive and IPPC Directive can be accessed via the European Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR).

Future developments and contacts

The interaction of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive and IPPC Directives is considered within the scope of the Commission's proposal for a Directive on Industrial Emissions that recasts the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive and six other existing Directives related to industrial emissions into a single clear and coherent legislative instrument.

For any questions regarding the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive and this site, please contact the Industrial Emissions Unit in DG Environment at the Commission.