The ‘Unsaid’ of the Waste Incineration BREF BAT Conclusions

Posted by aclimaadmin | 16 uztaila, 2019 | Sektoreari buruzko albisteak

With the Best Available Techniques (BAT) conclusions on Waste Incineration expected to be finalised this summer, Hubert de Chefdebien, Chairman of the ESWET Technical Working Group and Deputy-President of CEWEP, advises stakeholders against a hasty use of the BAT conclusions.

All installations included in the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED, Directive 2010/75/EU) must prevent and reduce pollution, use energy efficiently, prevent accidents and limit their consequences by applying the Best Available Techniques (BATs).

In order to define BATs and the BAT Associated Environmental Performance Levels (BATAEPLs) at European Union level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts under the coordination of the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Bureau (EIPPCB).

The experts, nominated by Member States, industry and environmental organisations, are organised into Technical Working Groups (TWGs), one for each industrial sector covered by the IED. This process results in Bat REFerence documents (BREFs). The chapter containing the so-called BAT conclusions of each BREF is intended to be designed as a stand-alone document. After the Member States’ approval, the BAT conclusions, adopted by the Commission, are published in the Official Journal of the European Union as a Commission Implementing Decision, which is directly applicable without transposition.

Within 4 years of the publication of a decision on BAT conclusions, the environmental permits of all the installations involved must be adapted to the new requirements and, if necessary, retrofitting work must be done in order to ensure that BATs are implemented and, in particular, that Emission Limit Values (ELVs) are set to ensure that emissions do not exceed the BAT Associated Emission Levels (BATAELs). The BAT conclusions on Waste Incineration (WI) are currently being finalised and are due to be published in summer 2019.

Implementation Unclear
At first glance, the BAT conclusions seem quite straightforward. However, when the time for implementation comes it will be clear that there is a lack of background information on how to understand them, how to apply them and the applicability of the BATAEL ranges. In fact, BAT conclusions often do not reference other complementary legal requirements, nor is useful contextual information shared during the exchange within the WI BREF TWG.

There are a number of causes for concern in the Waste Incineration BAT conclusions. Very little information was collected by the EIPPCB on cross-effects and costs. BATAELs are based on data provided by operators of well-performing plants in response to a questionnaire. Most of the BATAEL ranges were defined by selecting some of the reported emissions (usually among the lowest ones) and substance by substance, independently of each other.

In the BAT conclusions, BATAELs are expressed as ranges, which are often wide. Very little information is provided on how to understand and use these ranges. It is important to note that none of the plants used to set the BATs/BATAEPLs were at the same time fulfilling the maximum performances of the BAT conclusions: the lower end of all BATAELs as well as the upper end of BAT Associated Energy Efficiency Levels (BATAEELs). Moreover, BATAELs are directly derived from operating values. When setting BATAEL-based ELVs, the need for a margin for operating contingencies and uncertainty has to be taken into consideration.

Operating Conditions
The IED defines BATAELs (see IED Article 3 (13)) and requires that ELVs be set by competent authorities to ensure that emissions do not exceed BATAELs. However, the IED does not mention the BATAEPLs (BAT Associated Environmental Performance Levels) that were introduced by the guidelines for the drawing up of BREFs (Commission Implementing Decision of 10 February 2012), which does not require them to be applied. Nevertheless, the WI BREF BAT conclusions do not say that the BATAEPLs it contains (BATAEELs, BAT Associated Energy Efficiency Levels) are not imposed by IED, as BATAELs are.

For future requirements regarding incineration ELVs, the legal picture will become twofold: a set of new BATAEL-based ELVs in Normal Operating Conditions (NOC) plus the existing ELVs in the relevant [A1] Effective Operating Time (R-EOT) for a number of continuously monitored substances.


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