Technology Industries of Finland’s comments on the initiative of the Commission to update EU rules on industrial emissions

Technology Industries of Finland thanks the Commission for the possibility to comment on the revision of Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR).

The Directive on industrial emissions is the main EU instrument regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations, and it aims to achieve a high level of protection of the environment. An evaluation of the IED that has been carried out showed that the directive largely works well, yet there are some areas where improvements might be possible in its design and implementation. It is important that Green Deal’s political objectives are included also in the IED, and that the IED revision is done without harming these objectives. Also, it is essential that the national implementation of the provisions of the IED is done with same quality standards in each country.

The current IED framework is fit to enable the environmental transformation the European industry is undergoing. To ensure its success, it will be essential to maintain the core principles of the directive (definition of BAT, the Sevilla process, and its integrated approach). It is crucial that BAT conclusions are based on techniques that are achievable and economically viable in a competitive environment, and not on emerging techniques that are not mature yet. When it comes to a possible streamlining of the Sevilla process it could be justified, for example, to consider solutions that digitalization offers. However, it is important not to decrease or risk the possibilities of relevant stakeholders to take part in the process. Furthermore, it will be important to limit changes of the IED framework to the minimum, otherwise it risks breaking a system that works well.

Under the current regime, the Sevilla process is already long and complex, and a range of other environmental legislations covering industrial sectors are already in place. Therefore, a very careful and evidence-based assessment on a possible extension of the scope of the directive should be performed. It should make sure that the IED is the correct tool to address the environmental performance of new sectors or plants, and that no other legislation is in place.

The Green Deal’s “Zero Pollution" target must be seen only as the trend-setting vision. All the requirements must be based on the financial and technological feasibility principle. There is no idea to literally target to zero emissions – the costs of lowering emission levels will eventually be strongly disproportionate compared to the benefits.

It is also crucial to speed up the permit process. The IED licensing process can take a significant amount of time, which can be detrimental to investment decisions. The directive should consider setting fixed processing times that would ensure a response from the authorities under an expected timeframe.

Furthermore, it is essential to keep flexibility under BAT-AELs. The range of BAT-Associated Emission Levels and the possibility to derogate from them, if properly justified, should be maintained. This is fully in line with the ‘integrated approach’ principle of the IED.  Greenhouse gas, energy efficiency and circular economy are of high importance for industry and are already accounted for in the directive and/or the BREF process. They should continue to be incentivised, but not become mandatory requirements under the IED permitting process.

Article 42(1) of the IED - which defines the scope for when to apply the special provisions for waste incineration and waste co-incineration - should be clarified. In its current form, the article is so ambiguous that it causes serious problems of interpretation to authorities when granting environmental permits. This problem has for example blocked the introduction of waste co-gasification solutions into the EU market for well over a decade already.  Co-gasification solutions could play an important role in raising the efficiency of waste incineration, enhancing circular economy and replacing fossil fuels with new cleaner fuels, thus fostering realization of the EU climate targets. We propose that the Commission uses the possibility now at hand to correct the problem and present a clear provision in line with the Non-paper “Gasification of waste, under Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (IED)”. This would support the work of the permitting officials, give legal certainty to the investors, and allow new innovations to enter the EU market.

Technology Industries of Finland proposes that the revision of the IED will take into consideration issues regarding compliance monitoring and emission limits. Currently, the IED and BAT conclusions both set emissions limits for LCPs and waste incineration. BAT limit values are not effective in some OTNOCs (Other Than Normal Operating Conditions), in which the IED limit values are effective, but the averaging periods of the limits are different. Therefore, monitoring of both limits simultaneously is required, which makes the monitoring complicated and ambiguous. Also, situations that are considered as OTNOC may differ between Member States and even individual plants. Similarly, Member States may have different interpretations of how the measurement uncertainty shall be reduced from the measured values.

We would also like to make some remarks on the further development of the E-PRTR. In addition to yearly emissions, we propose to consider presenting emissions listed in IED/BAT documents also in mg/Nm3. This would provide an additional dimension for interpreting the data and would ease comparisons. From a technological perspective, it would be possible to reliably monitor and report on most emissions real-time in plant/mill – location – Member State – EU level. Therefore, we propose that steps would be taken towards real-time monitoring.

Findings from the IED evaluation carried out in 2020 included e.g. that there is insufficient public access to information, participation in decision making and access to justice with regard to permitting decisions and revisions. The current article 25 of the IED ensures access to justice to members of the public concerned, in accordance with the relevant national legal system. This means that members of the public have access to a review procedure before a court of law or another independent and impartial body established by law to challenge the substantive or procedural legality of decisions, acts or omissions under the IED. Access to justice is a fundamental right to members of the public concerned and must be ensured properly also in the future. However, it’s of vital importance that the current legal state is maintained: access to justice must be consistent with the national judicial system and what constitutes a sufficient interest shall be determined by Member States also in the future. Generally, the current procedures of public participation in the permit procedure and access to justice under IED are functioning well and promote public participation in the environmental decision making – the current procedures shall not be changed.

Ms. Tiina Fiskaali, Advisor

The Finnish Technology Industries promotes competitiveness and operational preconditions of technology industry companies, the largest and most important export sector in Finland. Technology industry comprises five sub-sectors: electronics and electro technical industry, mechanical engineering, metals industry, consulting engineering and information technology industries.