| Brussels, 30 April 2002
Key words: water, integrated water management,
Water is and has been determinant for life.
Its presence and quality conditions human settlements, economic
development and ecosystems. Unavoidably, industry consumes water,
and waste originating from production processes often has negative
impacts on the environment and on human health. As pointed out by
Commisioner for Research, "Water management has been on the agenda
of industry for at least a decade, and thanks to the advances of
scientific and technological research, significant progress has
already been achieved by European industry in the sustainable use
of this precious resource." Hence it is rather difficult to believe
that a reduction of 90% in water consumption could still be possible
in certain industries such as tanneries and leather factories. Nevertheless,
this impressive result is one of the achievements obtained by three
European research projects in the area of integrated water management.
The projects will be presented on 2 May in Barcelona at a media
briefing organised by the European Commission in the Institut d'Estudis
Three projects will be presented to the press,
addressing the challenging issues of tanneries (TANNET), the abandoned
industrial sites (INCORE) and the treatment of waste water (WASTE
WATER CLUSTER) to guarantee overall quality drinking water.
The merits of such projects have been to address the issue of
water management from a global perspective by putting together,
in an integrated manner, different small research projects tackling
specific and complementary parts of the water cycle treatment.
"Sustainable water use is critical for the development
of the tanning and leather industry" said Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano,
Secretary General of the Confederation of National Associations
of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community. He adds: "Thanks
to the application of clean and recycling technologies promoted
in the TANNET research network, water pollution will not only
decrease in the tanning and leather industry, but also in other
industrial branches. This is due to the high transferability
of the results obtained in this project, which could be useful to
industries such as textile, pulp or paper industry. Overall the
know-how exchange will contribute to an overall improvement of the
quality of life and a more sustainable management of our soil and
water resources in Europe".
Environmental research is currently
supplying tanning and leather industry with a great amount of practical
results of direct relevance for these two traditional European industries.
Significant progress has been made for example in the recycling
of chromium, a metal which cannot yet be replaced in the tanning
process for certain types of leather. Innovative treatment processes
have been developed to reduce the environmental impact of the 'shavings,
a detrimental by-product of the leather production process.
But our precious ground- and surface
water resources are also threatened by a legacy of the past, the
abandoned industry, by pollutants existing in the soil since
years and which are now approaching the water bodies. Permanent
observation of water, soil and land consumption is essential in
order to identify the most critical parts of the overall system
and to reverse negative trends into positive ones. New methods
to detect, monitor and quantify these threats at the earliest possible
stage in urban industrial areas have been developed by these EC
The combination of the three different research approaches of "TANNET",
"WASTE WATER CLUSTER" and "INCORE" provides
an extremely powerful tool to support the long-term provision of
drinking water of high quality. It will furthermore foster sustainable
industrial production processes in European industry and have positive
impacts on the employment situation in Europe.
Notes for editors: Journalists wishing to attend should
Julia Acevedo (see below)
or register with:
Ana Aguilar (Tel: +32.2.7379514 - Fax: +32.2.7379501- mobile: 00
32 476 219344 - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org),
at Hill and Knowlton International, working under contract of the
EC for this event.
For further information concerning the projects, please contact:
Jurgen Buesing, Scientific Officer, Environment Programme,
Tel: +32 2 29 55625, Fax: +32 2 29 52097
For further information to the press, please contact:
Julia Acevedo, Press and Information Officer, DG Research,
Tel: +32 2 295 20 43, Fax: +32 2 295 82 20
Background information on
the scientific and technological achievements of
the three projects to be presented in the media briefing
(TANNET, Waste Water Cluster and INCORE)
The leather industry in EU consists
of around 3.000 tanneries employing 50.000 people. The industry
is located in all European countries, except Luxembourg, although
the majority of the industry is located in the southern part of
TANNET, the network for European Leather Industry has produced a
qualitative change in the European tanning sector with regard to
R&D. TANNET has raised the tanner's awareness on their need
for innovation in products and production processes. Investing in
R&D allows them to comply with new regulatory developments in
the field of environment, save resources or reduce cost and to keep
the competitive edge with regard to their competitors. TANNET has
contributed to tanners recognising the link between R&D, environmental
performance and economic development. TANNET has build up an European
Network for the leather industry and has also recommended a strategy
or environmental research for the European leather industry. TANNET
has served as catalyst to increase the participation of tanneries
in EU projects. More than 10 EU proposals were initiated due to
the initiative of TANNET covering a broad range of environmental
needs of tannery industry. Examples are "water-free retanning,
dyeing and fatliquoring" of leather as an innovative environmentally-friendly
automated processes and the "tannery sludge project" that
tackles chromium-related issues such as "chromium recovery
The results achieved within TANNET
are also used to facilitate the implementation of the IPPC Directive
adopted on 24 September 1996 (Directive 96/61/EC; OJL 257 October
10, 1996). The final draft of the BREF for tanneries was approved
by the IEF (Information Exchanger Forum) in the beginning of May
Some figures and main achievements:
TANNET: 10 core partners (leather
Duration: 26 months
EU funding: 280.000 EURO
* Reduction of the discharge of chromium into the waste water by
- higher chromium uptake during the tanning process;
- re-circulation and re-use of chromium from tanning;
- replacement of chromium through other compounds.
* Gasification of leather waste and sludge is being practised in
a full scale gasification plant in Norway.
* Incineration of wet blue shavings is possible without technical
problems; the composition of the ash seems to be suitable for use
in metallurgic industry.
* Membrane filtration proved to be extremely useful for the re-use
of both process water and process chemicals in leather industry.
*A 90% reduction of water consumption can be expected.
* TANNET has built a European network with more than 300 members.
* TANNET recommended and implemented a strategy for environmental
research for the European leather industry.
* TANNET produced a report describing the environmental state-of
the art for the leather industry.
WASTE WATER CLUSTER
The WASTE WATER CLUSTER (WWC) was created in July 1997 and it involves
five European research projects from the Fourth Framework Program.
This cluster has improved the understanding of the transformation,
fate and toxicity of selected groups of industrial pollutants from
the industrial and urban sectors discharged into the water/soil
resources and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) by using complementary
sampling and advanced measuring techniques. More information and
understanding on emerging contaminants present in the effluent treatment
process of the industrial and urban sectors and as well on the effluents
reaching WWTP was achieved. The WWC supplies measuring devices based
on biosensors for monitoring of organic pollutants in waste waters.
This represents a valuable tool for industry, and the tanning industry
in particular, for monitoring effluent loads and surface water quality
of receiving waters. Such devices can be used for guiding the industry
on where to concentrate its efforts for continuing environmental
improvements towards a sustainable development.
The expertise and knowledge acquired within WWC is being transferred
to water industry and chemical industry as well. An increase of
competitiveness and economic investment within the EU is expected.
The results achieved by the WWC are already being used for helping
the implementation of Urban Waste Water Directive, 91/271/EC and
of the Water Framework Directive , 2000/C 177 E/11 of 27.6.2000.
Some figures and main achievements:
5 EU RTD projects, 30 research teams
Duration: 1997 - 2002
EU funding: 3.500.000 EURO
* An integrated immuno extraction sampling and portable biosensor
prototype for in-field monitoring of water and waste water has been
* An automated on-line field sampling and monitoring instrument
for micro-pollutants in industrial waste water has been built.
* A measurement and monitoring strategy of priority surfactants
and their toxic metabolites in waste effluent discharges has been
* A biosensor to measure endocrine disrupting chemicals has been
developed and tested for surface water, waste water and sludge.
INCORE provides an effective and sustainable investigation and remediation
strategy of groundwater and soil in urban areas, including areas
with leather production industry. The project idea was based on
" Integrated investigation of contaminated sites in the Neckar
river basin Stuttgart". INCORE is based on a comprehensive
identification of the pollutant emissions of an extensive contemplation
area instead of single spots. The investigation strategy combines
the integral groundwater investigation done by immission pumping
tests and specific site investigation, as on-site analysis and isotopic
analysis. The remediation strategy focuses on the use of various
innovative remediation techniques for the centres of the contamination
combined with passive approaches and the use of Natural Attenuation
in the downstream area. The project has a strong urban component
and several European cities (Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Linz and Milano)
are active participants of the project INCORE improves the groundwater
quality in accordance with the requirements stated in the Water
Framework Directive . INCORE investigates contaminated sites and
consequently the quality of soil is a major issue. The Draft Soil
Communication Document has been recently prepared by the EU in view
of a regulatory frame for soil protection. This document stresses
the European dimension of the soil as well as the need to tackle
soil problems. In European and international standardisation it
becomes more and more accepted, that contaminated materials (including
soils and sediments) are not judged based on the contaminant concentration
in the solid phase alone, but on the concentration to be expected
in water contacting such materials
INCORE: 10 European partners
Duration: 36 months
EU funding: 2.438.000 EURO