Keep the IED flexible and true to its purpose

Photo: Christian Crelle Ekstrand

The Industrial Emissions Directive is at risk of being revised in a more rigid and counterproductive direction. While the aim to control harmful emissions is supported across the forest-based industry, there is concern about the drawbacks of detailed restrictions being proposed.

"The forest-based industry is at the forefront of the green transition and wants to move further and faster in that direction. Overly detailed controls and requirements do not help us get there", says Henric Dernegård, environmental manager at Holmen.

"One example of regulatory overreach is the proposed binding requirement for resource efficiency. Detailed restrictions on the use of water and energy risk being counterproductive if they end up favoring products of poor quality for which there is no demand", says Henric Dernegård.

The proposed revision of IED is currently being negotiated within Parliament and Council.  

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it

The IED has been put in place to prevent and control pollution, as well as to harmonize the requirements for industrial installations in Europe.

"We are positive to EU regulation on emissions. However, the proposed IED revision will make it more difficult to optimize environmental benefits to each specific location and to develop new technical solutions", says Helena Sjögren, Environmental Director at the Swedish Forest Industries.

The general approach of the European Commission is that all emissions should be minimized. However, this can be difficult to achieve in practice. For example, when bioenergy is used to reduce carbon emissions from oil at a specific installation, the generation of nitrogen oxides will increase slightly, as the renewable fuel contains more nitrogen.

"Certain types of emissions are interconnected and difficult to minimize simultaneously. Tradeoffs need to me made to achieve the best environmental outcomes. That requires flexible legislation that looks the big picture", says Henric Dernegård. 

Binding requirements for resource efficiency

The European Commission’s proposal imposes binding requirements for resource efficiency, through mandatory environmental performance limit values. Henric Dernegård doubts such requirements will have the desired effect.

"Resource efficiency is already a major priority for all companies that wish to remain competitive on a global market. Binding requirements will only make the production less flexible", says Henric Dernegård.

Helena Sjögren agrees. In case the limit values end up being included in the legislation, they should be indicative, she says, and stresses the need to keep focus on what is most important.

"The number one priority should be people’s health and safety, and the environment as a whole. These factors should guide both technological development and environmental legislation. Concrete implementation should be entrusted to those who are most familiar with the local environment and the production process. I hope the Parliament and Council keep this in mind and stay true to the original principles of the IED in their positions going forward", says Helena Sjögren.