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ZERO PLUS - Integral liquid residuals management model for surface tratment industries through BAT's (ZERO PLUS)

LIFE05 ENV/E/000256

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Manuel Sánchez De La Asunción
Tel: +34 96 1318559
Fax: +34 96 1318168

Project description:


The surface treatment of metal products is a significant industrial activity in Europe. A number of liquid wastes are generated by surface treatment processes such as degreasing, acid pickling, alloy baths or lacquering. Many of these procedures form part of other products’ manufacturing processes. This can lead to an ‘invisible’ generation of pollution which is often neglected when designing preventive and corrective policies.


The project’s main objective was to define a model for managing liquid wastes created by the surface treatment industry. This was to be done through the integrated application of existing Best Available Techniques (BATs). The integral management model was implemented under real-life conditions in a typical electroplating plant, to demonstrate its suitability for achieving zero liquid-waste discharge.


The ZERO PLUS project successfully demonstrated the potential of a model for managing liquid wastes from the surface treatment industry and showed that the LIFE-funded model was capable of reducing environmental risks from discharge hazards to near-to-zero.

An innovative methodology was designed that involved merging different BATs. This resulted in all recoverable materials being separated early on in the treatment process. Once separated, different dedicated treatments were able to be applied to each type of effluent. In this way, the waste streams are able be fully cleaned and treated before the effluent reaches an ‘end-of-pipe’ stage.

Pre-industrial and industrial scale tests were carried out to assess, calibrate and validate the ZERO PLUS project’s new methodology. This was applied in three different aspects of the electroplating process, which between them involved seven typical scenarios/applications. These were: 1.Surface cleaning and preparation (A1:Degreases and rinses; A2:Acid pickling and rinse) 2.Copper-nickel-chromium rack installation or, alternatively, copper-nickel barrel installation (A3:Cyanided Cu rinses; A4:Bright Ni rinses; A5:Decorative Cr rinses) 3.Zinc/nickel barrel installation and chromate conversion (A6: Zn-Ni rinses; A7:Chromic passivated baths and rinses).

A baseline of environmental risks was first established for these seven electroplating processes by using the existing BREF guidelines. LIFE partners then tested various modification options in order to address weaknesses within the BATs.

Outcomes from the different modified or alternative approaches undertaken led to direct benefits such as: decreased source contamination; greater potential for reuse and recycling of waste constituents; replacing reagents waste treatments with physical treatment technologies; providing effective treatment options as alternatives to incineration or evaporation-incineration; reducing resource consumption (water, materials and energy); simplifying internal waste management processes; contributing to better safety and health conditions in the workplace; and strengthening sustainability criteria resulting from IPPC.

The ZERO PLUS methodology is considered to have good adaptability to different business context and reduces social concerns by using techniques that can be easily managed or implemented. Overall it will help reinforce integrated approaches for contamination prevention.

One of the most useful outcomes from the ZERO PLUS project was its review of the current BATs described in the BREF. This concluded with a set of recommendations or changes to each BAT for improving the overall environmental performance of surface treatments for metal products.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Metal industry
Waste - Industrial waste
Environmental management - Cleaner technologies


industrial waste‚  waste treatment‚  coating‚  metal products industry

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Waste
  • Directive 2000/76 - Incineration of waste (04.12.2000)
  • Industry and Product Policy
  • Directive 96/61 - Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) (24.09.1996)
  • Environmental management & assessment
  • Directive 2001/42 - Assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment ...
  • Air
  • Directive 2001/81- National emissions ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants (23.10.2001)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Metalmecánica, Afines y Conexas
Type of organisation Research institution
Description The Metal-processing Technology Institute (Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Metalmecánica, Afines y Conexas - AIMME) is a private non-profit association with around 670 members from the metal processing sector. The Institute seeks to encourage improvements in its members’ competitiveness through research, development and innovation, both in their production processes as well as in their final products.
Partners INNOVE VERDA S.A., Spain Universitat de València, Spain GALOL, S.A., Spain Fundación Comunidad Valenciana-Región Europea, Spain Compagnie Générales des Eaux, France Electro Chemical Services, France ANJOU Recherche, France Association pour la Recherche et le Développement des Méthodes et Processus Industriels, France


Project reference LIFE05 ENV/E/000256
Duration 01-DEC-2005 to 31-JUL -2009
Total budget 2,567,609.00 €
EU contribution 1,277,862.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España) Rhône-Alpes(France)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website (ES/FR/EN)
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan (and dissemination p ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Publication: Technical report Technical News ZERO PLUS (5.7 MB)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version