Thousands of British companies face potential fines and disciplinary action, including the closing of facilities, for failing to take account of the far reaching effects of the new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), a UK water and waste firm has warned.
Experts at Alpheus Environmental, a subsidiary of Anglian Water Group, have warned that many companies are simply unaware of the extent and potential impact of new tightened rules. These are prescribed in ‘best available techniques’ or BREF document requirements, set to come into force later this year.
Under the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, companies are obliged to reduce harmful industrial emissions, including emissions of waste water and generation of waste, and these rules are set to be tightened this year. The ‘polluter pays’ principle also puts the onus on companies to upgrade their facilities and for them to pay for any damage done to the environment.
EU regulators are currently drafting a series of best practices that will heighten already-stringent obligations on waste water and generation of waste for the decade ahead. It has however raised concerns very few in the industry are aware of this.
Despite Brexit, industry experts believe these regulations will still be maintained in UK law
Experts anticipate that the new EU guidance documents will include increased responsibilities in the design, construction, and operation of industrial facilities, specifically including water treatment.
Companies in water-intensive industries such as food & beverage, electronics, leisure, alcohol, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals will be most affected by the new responsibilities.
The legislation servers to integrate and strengthen existing legislation, broaden the scope of industrial activities regulated, establish and prescribe the technologies required in each sector to reduce emissions, and require companies to establish a base line of emission report upon which licence thresholds will be set and adjusted.
It is widely agreed within the water sector that Brexit will likely not affect the relevant legislation in the UK, which it implemented along with other EU member states after the current EU Industrial Emissions Directive came into effect in 2013.
Water management expert Declan Maguire, operations director at Alpheus Environmental said:
“Despite the fact that this legislation is in place since 2013, the extent of the new obligations are only now becoming apparent as sectoral guidelines come into place. Companies that were previously IED complainant will suddenly become non-compliant as they fail to achieve the new standards. If companies are not proactively establishing baseline reports of emissions and addressing deficiencies it will lead to penalties and ultimately facility closures, and no business can sustain this”
The new EU guideline documents reflect the need to protect global water systems in coming decades. Increasing demand intensity for domestic and industrial water use will see rising competition for water resources and therefore higher costs. This will lead to the need for companies to adopt more cost-effective water management, including water recycling, water efficiency measures, and waste minimisation.
Mr Maguire continued:
“In order to be compliant with emerging regulatory requirements but also cost-efficient in the face of increasing pressures on global water resources, companies will need to look at how they can ensure their water management continues to be fit for purpose.
“We are seeing a rapid shift towards a ‘polluter pays’ approach to water, so companies will need to be prepared to minimise their wasted water or face rapidly increasing costs”
“With water technology developing at a rapid pace and the requirement on organisations to seek out the most efficient means of delivering water treatment, the process of managing water in-house will also become progressively more inefficient and financially unsustainable so I expect we will see more companies looking to outsource their water management to specialised experts.”