Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of the overall pollution in Europe. The EU has a set of common rules for permitting and controlling industrial installations described in the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (IED).
Chapter II of this Directive (and its predecessor Directives) requires the integrated control of the consumption of energy, water and raw materials, as well as the prevention of the pollution of water, air and soil from approximately 52 000 industrial installations across Europe. This control is implemented in each Member State through a system of permits which include conditions requiring the use of the Best Available Techniques (BAT).
The European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Bureau (EIPPCB) provides a major resource for member states and applicants for permits by developing Best Available Techniques Reference Documents (BREFs). BREFs result from an exchange of technical information between experts from industry, Member States, research institutes, environmental NGOs and the European Commission. This exchange is catalysed by the EIPPCB, which sets up a technical working group for each BREF. The BREF is the outcome of a two to three year process involving up to 100 experts in such a group.
By this method, 32 BREFs for industry sectors have been produced. There is a rolling programme to revise BREFs in order to account for developments in manufacturing techniques and in pollution control.
BREFs revised from January 2011 onwards will include parts identified as 'BAT Conclusions'. These may contain emission and consumption levels associated with the use of BAT. A formal procedure for the adoption of these BAT conclusions is provided by Article 75(2) of the IED.
In the international context, BREFs and BAT Conclusions are considered an EU contribution to the global process initiated at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, so that non-European countries can also reap the benefits of this ambitious work.