Waste Incineration (WI BREF)

The Waste Incineration BREF covers a variety of activities including the burning of untreated and pretreated municipal waste, hazardous waste and sewage sludge incineration. 

The main environmental impacts of waste incineration are linked to air pollution: the flue gases resulting from the combustion of waste contain particulate matter, heavy metals, dioxins and furans, sulphur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and other harmful pollutants.

Incineration has already been regulated for decades. It is one of the industries for which Emission Limit Values (ELVs) have been set at EU level. Yet the unavoidable release of the most harmful pollutants, even in low quantities in state-of-the-art installations, continues to raise significant environmental and health concerns. The release of substances including various dioxins and toxic heavy metals is proven to be linked to respiratory diseases, cancers, immune system damage and reproductive and developmental problems.

The operation of waste incineration/co-incineration plants also triggers negative impacts on water quality due to the discharge of heavy metals and other harmful substances to surface waters, as well as in cases of mismanagement of the produced residues.

Because of their intrinsic properties, certain pollutants pose long term environmental damage due to bio-accumulation, persistency and toxicity; hence any pollution load of these PBTs/POPs should be prevented. Toxic emissions are particularly harmful to the most vulnerable in society, including children and unborn babies. 

The EEB seeks to ensure the strongest possible standards in the interests of human health and environmental protection. T

For more information and background, please see our more detailed [WI BREF Briefing]. You can read about how you can contribute to our work below. 

Considering recent experience in BREF reviews, we would seek to get the following information:

  • Best practices for effective waste pre-treatment and input control improving the process efficiency and preventing/reducing environmental impacts;
  • Best practices for improving the treatment efficiency and establishing a relation between the input and output flow;
  • Best practices for assessing the output quality and assessing/minimising the polluting potential of the produced residues (preferably including concrete elements e.g. measured pollutants destruction efficiency);
  • Techniques that achieve “0” emissions (or detection limit) of various pollutants considered as persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) for water and air pathway;
  • Monitoring data showing emission levels at ‘detection limits’ for any of the Annex II pollutants of the IED and Ambient Air and Cleaner Air for Europe Directive;
  • Monitoring data in particular for emissions to air of benzo(a)pyrene, N20 and CH4 to assess relevance to the sector;
  • Performance data / techniques which achieve better performance (BAT-AEL or BAT-AEPL) than the proposed tighter range of the 2006 WI BREF, in support of the EEB split views;
  • Techniques for the continuous measurement of Hg emissions (and associated monitoring data / feasibility studies / pilot applications);
  • Techniques for the continuous sampling of PCDD/F and heavy metals (and associated monitoring data / feasibility studies / pilot applications);
  • NOx: monitoring data / feasibility studies indicating outlet concentrations at stack <60mg/Nm³ (O2 11%)
  • Information on other environmental issues of concern not sufficiently addressed

Please provide information to BATWI@eeb.org or submit information anonymously via the contact page