EU’s Industrial Emission Directive 

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) of the European Union (EU), adopted in 2010, is a critical regulation aimed at minimizing pollution from industrial activities across Europe. It is designed to safeguard human health and the environment by regulating emissions from approximately 52,000 industrial installations. These installations, engaged in activities listed in Annex I of the Directive, must operate under permits that adhere to conditions based on the IED’s principles. This summary focuses on the directive’s implications for waste incineration plants, a key area affected by these regulations. 

The IED employs an integrated approach to environmental performance, considering emissions to air, water, and land, alongside waste generation, raw material use, energy efficiency, noise, accident prevention, and site restoration post-closure. Permit conditions, including emission limit values, are mandated to be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). These are determined through collaboration between the EU, Member States, industry, and environmental organizations, facilitated by the European IPPC Bureau. The outcomes of this collaboration, known as BAT Reference Documents (BREFs), set the benchmark for permit conditions. 

Specifically, for waste incineration and co-incineration plants, the IED establishes EU-wide emission limit values for selected pollutants. However, it also allows for flexibility in setting less stringent values under certain conditions, such as disproportionate costs versus environmental benefits, which must be justified by the competent authority. 

A significant component of the IED is its emphasis on environmental inspections and public participation. It mandates regular inspections based on risk criteria and ensures public access to permit applications, results, and the decision-making process. 

The 2022 revision proposals for the IED aim to align the directive more closely with the European Green Deal and the zero-pollution action plan. This revision focuses on enhancing energy, water, and material efficiency, promoting cleaner technologies, and expanding coverage to more sectors. It introduces stricter permit controls, an Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions (INCITE), and improved public access to environmental information. 

From the perspective of waste incineration plants, the IED and its revision have several implications: 

  1. Stricter Emission Controls: The focus on BAT and specific emission limit values means that waste incineration plants must adopt the latest technologies and practices to minimize emissions. This could involve significant investment in new technologies or upgrades to existing facilities. 
  2. Increased Operational Costs: Compliance with tighter emission standards and the implementation of BAT may increase operational costs for waste incineration plants. However, these costs could be offset by improved efficiency and the potential for reduced environmental impact fees. 
  3. Flexibility with Justification: The ability to set less stringent emission values offers some flexibility but requires thorough justification. This could be beneficial for plants facing unique challenges due to their location or technical characteristics, provided they can demonstrate that stricter limits are not cost-effective. 
  4. Enhanced Public Scrutiny: With increased transparency and public participation in the permitting process, waste incineration plants may face greater scrutiny from the public and environmental groups. This could lead to more pressure to reduce emissions and improve environmental performance. 
  5. Focus on Innovation and Sustainability: The revision’s emphasis on cleaner technologies and sustainability aligns with the broader goals of the circular economy. Waste incineration plants could play a pivotal role in waste management strategies that prioritize energy recovery and material reuse, potentially opening up new business opportunities. 

In conclusion, the IED and its forthcoming revisions represent a comprehensive framework aimed at reducing industrial emissions and protecting the environment. For waste incineration plants, this means adapting to stricter regulations, investing in cleaner technologies, and potentially rethinking their role within a circular economy framework. While these changes may present challenges, they also offer opportunities for innovation and leadership in sustainable waste management. 

WOIMA’s offering to the small-to-medium-scale WtE market, the pre-engineered, prefabricated, and modular wasteWOIMA® WtE plant, is a robust grate-fired solution for combusting different waste streams to energy. A single boiler island (WOIMAline) wasteWOIMA® plant uses roughly 40,000 to 50,000 tons of waste fuel per annum. Several WOIMAlines can be integrated to create a larger power plant. The adheres completely with the IED reducing emissions to practically zero. And with an integrated carbon capture solution, the plant can provide carbon-neutral, or even carbon-negative, base-load power for decades to come. 

Read more about the IED here 



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WOIMA Corporation is a Finnish supplier of best-in-class waste-to-value products, projects and services worldwide. We have developed solutions that enable us, and the customer, to transform and recycle virtually any waste stream into raw materials and energy.  At WOIMA we combine Finnish engineering know-how in waste management with power generation design expertise. These solutions are used in Finland every day. They support the circular economy ideology and ensure that less than 1% of Finland’s waste ends up in landfills.

Our mission is to improve quality of life both locally and globally, as well as empower people to utilize waste as a commodity. Our decades of international project management experience ensure an on-time, in-budget and high-quality WOIMA solution delivery across the globe.