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What is the Industrial Emissions Directive?

Frank Wayman

29 Jun 18

This is the first in a series of blog posts written by Dr Frank Wayman PHD taken from his recent e-book - How will the EU Industrial Emissions Directive impact the Brewing and Drinks sector? In this post Frank explores the reasoning behind the IED and provides an insight into how BREF can help companies to navigate its potentially choppy waters.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) commits European Union member states to limiting the impact of emissions from industrial production on the environment. Passed in the European Parliament and Council in November 2010 and implemented in January 2011, Directive 2011/75/EU uses a polluter pays principle to design the costs of any necessary improvements to the operator of the plant. This means that if you are a producer of waste then you have to pay for it to be cleaned up.


The intention of the directive is to lower emissions based on the adoption of what is called Best Available Techniques, as defined in Annex 111 of the Directive and commonly known as BAT.

It is a concept that should evaluate and select the processing methods with the best overall outcome for industrial emissions. For example, the cleaning of the brewery pipework will require the use of water, energy and chemicals, but it also has to be effective. A BAT cleaning method will provide effective cleaning with minimal use of raw materials and energy, therefore minimising the environmental impact.


What is a BREF?

“BREF” is an abbreviation for ‘Best Available Techniques Reference Document’. There are a series of these documents created to regulate the industrial processes within the scope of the IED (Article 13). The food, drinks and milk industries (FDM) BREF is yet to be published, but that is likely to happen in 2019.

The FDM BREF will likely impact large producers of drinks, i.e. those who produce more than 1 million hectolitres per year. This includes the largest producer of beer, juice and soft drinks; however, it also offers value to medium-sized producers, i.e. those producing upwards of 100,000 hectolitres per year, who can use it as a benchmarking tool.

The FDM BREF will also affect food producers in different ways, depending on the meat content of their products. In general terms, those who produce foodstuffs with animal-sourced ingredients have lower thresholds for compliance with the regulations than non-meat food producers.

The purpose of the BREF handbook is to give regulators the same knowledge and understanding of what is considered to be acceptable working practises across the whole of the EU. In particular, it describes what BAT methodology is in different aspects of the industry, and that is why it is useful for benchmarking.

The BREF document also sets emissions limits for discharges to the environment. Producers operating within the single European market will all have to bear the cost of meeting these targets, but should not be affected commercially, as all producers will have to meet the same limits at the same time.


You can read more about the IED and its impact on the brewing and drinks sector by downloading the complete e-book.

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