Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)

Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and the Council on industrial emissions (the Industrial Emissions Directive or IED) is the main EU instrument regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations. The IED was adopted on 24 November 2010, entered into force on 6 January 2011 and had to be transposed by Member States by 7 January 2013. The IED aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). Around 50,000 installations undertaking the industrial activities listed in Annex I of the IED are required to operate in accordance with an integrated permit (granted by the authorities in the Member States). This permit should contain conditions set in accordance with the principles and provisions of the IED.

The pillars that IED is based on several pillars, in particular (1) an integrated approach, (2) use of best available techniques, (3) flexibility, (4) inspections and (5) public participation.

The integrated approach means that the permits must take into account the whole environmental performance of the plant, covering e.g. emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure.

The permit conditions including emission limit values must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). In order to define BAT and the BAT-associated environmental performance at EU level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts from Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This work is co-ordinated by the European IPPC Bureau at the EU Joint Research Centre in Seville (Spain). This process results in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs); the BAT conclusionscontained are adopted by the Commission as Implementing Decisions. The IED requires that these BAT conclusions are the reference for setting permit conditions. For certain activities, i.e. large combustion plants, waste incineration and co-incineration plants, solvent using activities and titanium dioxide production, the IED also sets EU wide emission limit values for selected pollutants.

The IED allows competent authorities some flexibility to set less strict emission limit values. This is possible only in specific cases where an assessment shows that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to the geographical location or the local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation. The competent authority shall always document its justification for granting such derogations. Furthermore, Chapter III of the IED on large combustion plants includes certain flexibility instruments (Transitional National Plan, limited lifetime derogation, etc.).

The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member States shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit to take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria.

The IED ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to permit applications, permits and the results of the monitoring of releases. In addition, through the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) emission data reported by Member States are made accessible in a public register, which is intended to provide environmental information on major industrial activities.


Installation means a stationary technical unit within which one or more activities listed in Annex  I or in Part 1 of Annex VII to IED are carried out, and any other directly associated activities on the same site which have a technical connection with the activities listed in those Annexes and which could have an effect on emissions and pollution.

Best Available Techniques (BAT)

Best available techniques means the most effective and advanced stage in the development of activities and their methods of operation which indicates the practical suitability of particular techniques for providing the basis for emission limit values and other permit conditions designed to prevent and, where that is not practicable, to reduce emissions and the impact on the environment as a whole:

  1. ‘techniques’ includes both the technology used and the way in which the installation is designed, built, maintained, operated and decommissioned;
  2. ‘available techniques’ means those developed on a scale which allows implementation in the relevant industrial sector, under economically and technically viable conditions, taking into consideration the costs and advantages, whether or not the techniques are used or produced inside the Member State in question, as long as they are reasonably accessible to the operator;
  3. ‘best’ means most effective in achieving a high general level of protection of the environment as a whole.

BAT reference document (BREF)

BAT reference document means a document, resulting from the exchange of information organised pursuant to Article 13 of IED, drawn up for defined activities and describing, in particular, applied techniques, present emissions and consumption levels, techniques considered for the determination of best available techniques as well as BAT conclusions and any emerging techniques, giving special consideration to the criteria listed in Annex III to IED.

BAT conclusions

BAT conclusions (BATC) is a document containing the parts of a BAT reference document laying down the conclusions on best available techniques, their description, information to assess their applicability, the emission levels associated with the best available techniques, associated monitoring, associated consumption levels and, where appropriate, relevant site remediation measures. the BAT conclusions contained are adopted by the Commission as Implementing Decisions.

Translations of certain BATC into Arabic, Chinese and Russian have been provided by the European Commission’s translation services (with no revision or guarantee on actual accuracy in relation to the original text in English) and are available at the EIPPCB website.

Emission levels associated with BAT (BAT-AELs)

Emission levels associated with the best available techniques’ means the range of emission levels obtained under normal operating conditions using a best available technique or a combination of best available techniques, as described in BAT conclusions, expressed as an average over a given period of time, under specified reference conditions. In some cases, BAT associated energy efficiency levels  (BAT-AEELs) are laid down in certain BAT conclusions.  

The European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Bureau (EIPPCB)

The European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Bureau (EIPPCB) was set up in 1997 to organise an exchange of information between Member States, industry and non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection on Best Available Techniques (BAT), associated monitoring and developments in them. With the entry into force of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED, 2010/75/EU), the EIPPCB organises and coordinates the exchange of information that leads to the drawing up and review of BAT reference documents according to the dispositions of the Guidance document on the exchange of information (Commission Implementing Decision 2012/119/EU). The European IPPC Bureau is an output oriented team which produces reference documents on Best Available Techniques, called BREFs. BREFs are the main reference documents used by competent authorities in Member States when issuing operating permits for the installations that represent a significant pollution potential in Europe. There are about 50000 of these installations in Europe. In the international context, the European information exchange on best available techniques is considered to be an EU contribution to the global process initiated in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development so that non-EU countries can also reap the benefits of this ambitious work.

BAT Conclusions (accompanied by updated BREFs)

  • Common Waste Water and Waste Gas Treatment/Management Systems in the Chemical Sector
  • Food, Drink and Milk Industries
  • Intensive Rearing of Poultry or Pigs         
  • Iron and Steel Production            
  • Large Combustion Plants
  • Manufacture of Glass    
  • Non-ferrous Metals Industries  
  • Production of Cement, Lime and Magnesium Oxide         
  • Production of Chlor-alkali            
  • Production of Large Volume Organic Chemicals 
  • Production of Pulp, Paper and Board      
  • Refining of Mineral Oil and Gas 
  • Surface Treatment Using Organic Solvents including Wood and Wood Products Preservation with Chemicals               
  • Tanning of Hides and Skins          
  • Waste Incineration         
  • Waste Treatment
  • Wood-based Panels Production

BREFs for which BAT Conclusions have not been adopted yet      

  • Ceramic Manufacturing Industry              
  • Common Waste Gas Treatment in the Chemical Sector  
  • Emissions from Storage
  • Ferrous Metals Processing Industry
  • Industrial Cooling Systems          
  • Large Volume Inorganic Chemicals – Ammonia, Acids and Fertilisers                                         
  • Large Volume Inorganic Chemicals – Solids and Others Industry 
  • Manufacture of Organic Fine Chemicals
  • Production of Polymers POL        BREF (08.2007)                                 
  • Production of Speciality Inorganic Chemicals       
  • Slaughterhouses and Animals By-products Industries      
  • Smitheries and Foundries Industry          
  • Surface Treatment Of Metals and Plastics             
  • Textiles Industry

Horizontal BREFs

  • Economics and Cross-media Effects        
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Monitoring of Emissions to Air and Water from IED Installations

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR)

E-PRTR is the Europe-wide register that provides easily accessible key environmental data from industrial facilities in European Union Member States and in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. It replaced and improved upon the previous European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER). The new register contains data reported annually by more than 30,000 industrial facilities covering 65 economic activities across Europe. For each facility, information is provided concerning the amounts of pollutant releases to air, water and land as well as off-site transfers of waste and of pollutants in waste water from a list of 91 key pollutants including heavy metals, pesticides, greenhouse gases and dioxins for years 2007 onwards. Some information on releases from diffuse sources is also available and will be gradually enhanced. The register contributes to transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making. It implements for the European Community the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) PRTR Protocol to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.