Industrial Emissions

Industrial activities are responsible for pollution on a massive scale. That’s why special laws exist at the European level to prevent and control pollution from factories, power plants and other large-scale industrial activities. The EEB provides expert advice to European and national policymakers and campaigns to encourage the use of truly best practices to stop industrial pollution at its source.

Industrial activities, from the production of electricity and cement, waste management and incineration to the intensive rearing of livestock are responsible for emissions of various substances, including sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, ammonium, dust and mercury and other heavy metals, into the air, water and earth. Large scale industrial activities also eat up precious resources, use hazardous chemicals and generate pollution negatively affecting human health and the environment.

The human health cost of air, water and soil pollution from industry is measured in the billions of euros each year, with cases of numerous conditions including asthma, bronchitis and cancer directly linked to toxic emissions.

Acid rain is perhaps the best known environmental issue directly caused by industrial pollution. It occurs following a reaction between sulphur and nitrogen oxides and water in the atmosphere. While acid rain is on the decrease in Europe, it is still responsible for  ocean acidification and soil degradation, reducing biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems and damaging the built environment.

More than 50,000 industrial installations in the EU are subject to the rules set in a single piece of European law – the Industrial Emissions Directive. This legislation aims to reduce emissions, promote resource efficiency and curtail the use of hazardous chemicals by setting agreed standards for different industrial activities. These standards are known as the ‘Best Available Techniques’ (or ‘BAT’) and the EEB plays a crucial role in the process that agrees these standards, constantly calling improved environmental performance for all activities.

To assist with evidence-gathering, the industrial production team runs a website that serves as an information exchange platform for best practices in industry.

The overall safety of industrial activities is of the utmost importance. Production processes involving chemicals that could, if something were to go wrong, have a devastating and tragic effect on local communities and the environment, must be properly and effectively regulated. To reduce the risk of such accidents ever occurring the EEB demands the highest standards of protection and planning for dangerous industrial activities, in particular the substitution of substances of concern at source.

The EEB’s Industry Working Group meets periodically, gathering experts from across Europe to discuss issues relating to industrial pollution and how to address them.

154 million

Potential daily external health cost savings achieved by using recognised techniques to reduce air pollution from EU coal plants

20000 lives

Could be saved every year by improving environmental performance at European coal power stations