Updated EU environmental specifications have come into force for new large waste treatment installations, the European Commission announced. Following a review of the reference document setting out the best available techniques (BATs) for the waste treatment sector, the Commission has published a new set of standards that provide national authorities with an updated technical basis for setting permit conditions for the bloc’s largest waste treatment facilities, which currently number around 4,000. Existing waste treatment installations will have four years to comply with the new standards, during which time national governments must transpose them into domestic law. But installations given planning permission following the publication of the new BAT conclusions must comply immediately. The document primarily covers emissions from different waste treatments, but also sets out new BAT conclusions for energy efficiency, resource efficiency, accident prevention, noise and odour and management of residues. These conclusions cover the most common waste treatments, including mechanical, biological and physico-chemical techniques. They also apply to temporary waste storage and wastewater plants treating effluent from other waste treatment installations, but not to waste incineration or landfill sites. For the first time, the Commission has set out the emission levels associated with BATs from the mechanical and aerobic treatment of waste. It notes that these new levels could drive a significant reduction in emissions from the waste treatment sector once they are translated into emission limits. The conclusions were drawn up by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in collaboration with experts from industry, environmental NGOs, EU public authorities and other branches of the Commission. It adopted the conclusions after they were approved by member states in the Industrial Emissions Directive Article 75 Committee. In a statement, the Commission said the new standards will play an “important role” in meeting the EU’s environmental and waste management goals. Responding to the news, a spokesperson at the European Environmental Bureau told ENDS: “Rather than waiting for the last possible minute, there is no reason why governments cannot act more quickly and use the new rules to tighten their existing regulations right now. The safe treatment of waste is an essential environmental protection and there is no acceptable reason why the Best Available Techniques should not already be in use in Europe.” ENDS Magazine, Simon Pickstone, 20 Aug 2018 Follow-up: JRC press release