New environmental standards for waste treatment

The European Commission has set new environmental requirements for waste treatment. This initiative comes after the review of the Best Available Techniques (BATs) to reduce the environmental impact of largest waste treatment installations.

The measure will affect approximately 4,000 installations, including waste-based AD plants, accross the EU. The European Commission has established new environmental standards for setting permit conditions for them, which shall be transposed by national authorities into domestic law. Existing waste treatment installations will have four years to comply with the EC requirements. New installations will have to conform to BAT measures immediately.

The adopted decision covers emissions from different waste treaments and includes new conclusions for energy efficiency, resource efficiency, accident prevention, noise and odour, as well as management of residues.

For the first time, the Commission has set out the emission levels associated with BATs from the aerobic treatment of waste, which will have to be taken into account for biogas production. It notes that these new levels could drive a significant reduction in emissions from the waste treatment sector.   

David Wilken, Head of Waste, Fertilisation and Hygiene at the German Biogas Association, who represented EBA in the technical working group preparing the new BAT document said: “The waste treatment BREF implements the state of the art for Anaerobic Digestion plants. This might lead to higher requirements in some member states but at the same time strengthen the knowledge and acceptance of the AD technology inside and outside of Europe and hopefully the expansion of collection and treatment of separated collected biowaste.