Emission intensity of manufacturing industries in Europe
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
The manufacturing industries are responsible for large emission loads discharged in water. The manufacture of products results in many and varied emissions, depending on the products being manufactured and the processes and chemicals used. Emissions to water include heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, mercury), organic micropollutants, suspended solids and organic matter, which affect the ecological and/or chemical status of water bodies. Over the last 30 years, urban and industrial wastewater treatment has progressively improved and today, in many parts of Europe, a large proportion of the pollutants are removed (European waters assessment of status and pressures). However, in some areas, pollution caused by inadequately treated wastewater is still an important source of river pollution and an important source for transitional and coastal waters. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) lays down a strategy against the pollution of water and requires further specific measures for pollution control and environmental quality standards (EQS). In accordance with WFD Article 4, Member States should implement the necessary measures with the aim of progressively reducing pollution from priority substances and ceasing or phasing out emissions, discharges and losses of priority hazardous substances.
The consequences of economic activities with regard to water quality and quantity have been analysed under the WFD through the Member States’ River Basin Management Plans. The study of the link between water status (quality and quantity), relevant pressures and their economic driving forces provides an important basis for decision making and the prioritisation of measures with regard to achieving the objectives of the WFD. Moreover, it can help to indicate whether economic growth in a particular industry/sector is decoupled from its environmental impact and thus whether the sector is moving towards a higher resource efficiency. Easily understandable indicators will be necessary to provide signals and measure progress in improving resource efficiency.
Decoupling represents a strategic approach for moving towards a global Green Economy – one that “results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities". The emission of pollutants from point sources (industrial facilities) provides an indication of the potential environmental impact on water quality. Economic growth is defined as the added (monetary) value of all final goods and services produced within a country (or economic sector) in a given period of time, usually a calendar year.
- No rationale references available
This indicator is used to illustrate the emission intensity of manufacturing industries expressed as the amount of pollutant discharged in water per unit of production of the manufacturing industries (expressed as one million Euro gross value added). Furthermore, the indicator shows a decoupling of economic growth (GVA) from environmental impact (emission of pollutants). The decoupling indicator displays the percentage change in the emission of pollutants from manufacturing against the change in the gross value added (GVA) of the manufacturing industry over the same period of time (2004-2010). Absolute decoupling occurs when the environmentally relevant variable is stable or decreasing, while the economic driving force is growing. Relative decoupling occurs when the growth rate of the emission is positive, but less than the growth rate of GVA.
In line with the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE Rev. 2 Section C (divisions 10-33)) the following manufacturing industries are considered:
Division 10: Manufacture of food products
Division 11: Manufacture of beverages
Division 12: Manufacture of tobacco products
Division 13: Manufacture of textiles
Division 14: Manufacture of wearing apparel
Division 15: Manufacture of leather and related products
Division 16: Manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials
Division 17: Manufacture of paper and paper products
Division 18: Printing and reproduction of recorded media
Division 19: Manufacture of coke, refined petroleum products
Division 20: Manufacture of chemicals, chemical products
Division 21: Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
Division 22: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products
Division 23: Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products
Division 24: Manufacture of basic metals
Division 25: Manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment
Division 26: Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products
Division 27: Manufacture of electrical equipment
Division 28: Manufacture of machinery and equipment not elsewhere classified
Division 29: Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers
Division 30: Manufacture of other transport equipment
Division 31: Manufacture of furniture
Division 32: Other manufacturing
Division 33: Repair and installation of machinery and equipment
The following divisions from NACE Rev. 2 Section C were considered:
- Food industry: division 10, 11
- Chemical industry: division 20, groups 20.1-20.6
- Metal industry:division 24, 25
Emission intensity is expressed in kilogrammes of pollutant per one million EURO of GVA. Changes in pollutant emissions from manufacturing industries between 2004 and 2012 (separately for nutrients and heavy metals) are expressed in percent, where the values recorded in 2004 represent 100%. Changes in GVA generated by manufacturing between 2004 and 2012 are expressed in percent, where the values recorded in 2004 represent 100%.
Policy context and targets
In March 2010, the European Commission issued the European Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth: ‘Europe 2020 strategy’ . It highlights – amongst others - the need of a more resource efficient economy. The “Flagship initiative”, under the Europe 2020 strategy, called “A resource efficient Europe”, establishes resource efficiency as the guiding principle for EU policies on energy, transport, climate change, industry, commodities, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity and regional development. The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe defines medium and long term objectives to achieve efficient resource use in the region. Decoupling, in the sense of breaking the linkage between economic growth and resource use, is a central concept of the strategy for making Europe resource efficient.
The 2050 vision and the objectives to be reached by 2020 are to be addressed in the sector initiatives that will contribute to the resource-efficient Europe Flagship Initiative (e.g. the 7th EU Environmental Action Programme ).
EU wide targets related to the emission intensity of manufacturing with regard to pollutants released to water, or the decoupling of pollutant emissions from economic growth have not yet been set.
A more innovative and low-emission economy is the main goal set out in the Commission's strategy and action plan "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bio-economy for Europe".
Related policy documents
A resource-efficient Europe
A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy The flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy supports the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth. Natural resources underpin our economy and our quality of life. Continuing our current patterns of resource use is not an option. Increasing resource efficiency is key to securing growth and jobs for Europe. It will bring major economic opportunities, improve productivity, drive down costs and boost competitiveness. The flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe provides a long-term framework for actions in many policy areas, supporting policy agendas for climate change, energy, transport, industry, raw materials, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity and regional development. This is to increase certainty for investment and innovation and to ensure that all relevant policies factor in resource efficiency in a balanced manner.
COM(2010) 2020 final, Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
European Commission, 2010. Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. COM(2010) 2020 final.
Decoupling natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth
A Report of the UNEP Working Group on Decoupling to the International Resource Panel
European Waters – Assessment of Status and Presures
This report's results present good and robust European overviews of the data reported by the first RBMPs, and of the ecological status and pressures affecting Europe's waters. Europe's waters are affected by several pressures, including water pollution, water scarcity and floods. Major modifications to water bodies also affect morphology and water flow. To maintain and improve the essential functions of our water ecosystems, we need to manage them well.
Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe, EC, 2012
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. COM(2011) 571
Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC
Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC: Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.
Key policy question
Is the emission to water of nutrients and heavy metals from manufacturing decoupling from economic growth?
Specific policy question
Is the emission to water of organic matter from the chemical industry decoupling from economic growth?
Specific policy question
Is the emission to water of heavy metals from the metal processing industry decoupling from economic growth?
Specific policy question
Is the emission to water of nutrients from the food industry decoupling from economic growth?
Methodology for indicator calculation
The formula used to calculate values for the indicator is:
where E is the emission of aggregate heavy metals/nutrients into water and Y is the gross value added in basic prices.
The aggregation of nutrients is based on the LCA methodology, where the following equation has been used for the conversion of Ntot to Ptot equivalent,. Nutrient equivalent (P): =LN*/7,23+ LP (P)
Where LN = Ntot emission load and LP = Ptot emission load
The aggregation of heavy metals is based on absolute sums of kg of pollutants released, weighted by factors corresponding to the reciprocal Predicted No Effect Concentrations (PNEC) values (1/PNEC) for each pollutant and made equivalent to one of the metals - here Mercury (Hg) has been chosen. If it is made equivalent to another metal, the diagram would look the same but have another scaling on the ordinate axis. This weighting was made in order to reflect the differences in the environmental impact of the four heavy metals on the Priority Substances List in the field of water policy.
Total metal equivalent (Hg) release (per country, per year)=LCd* (PNEC Hg / PNEC Cd) + LNi* (PNEC Hg / PNEC Ni) + LPb* (PNEC Hg / PNEC Pb) + LHg* (PNEC Hg / PNEC Hg) = LCd* (0.05 / 0.2) + LNi* (0.05 / 8,6) + LPb* (0.05/ 1.3) + LHg
PNEC used: Cd (0.2 μg/l), Ni (8,6 μg/l), Pb (1.3 μg/l, Hg (0.05 μg/l) in accordance with the Background Document "Establishment of a list of Predicted No Effect Concentrations (PNECs) for naturally occurring substances in produced water" (OSPAR Agreement 2014-05).
Methodology for gap filling
- Environmental Assessment of Products: Volume 2: Scientific background. Hauschild M, Wenzel H (eds) (1998) , Chapman & Hall, London
- NACE Rev. 2, Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community NACE is the “statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community” and is the subject of legislation at the European Union level, which imposes the use of the classification uniformly within all the Member States. It is a basic element of the international integrated system of economic classifications, which is based on classifications of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSTAT), Eurostat as well as national classifications; all of them strongly related each to the others, allowing the comparability of economic statistics produced worldwide by different institutions.
- Establishment of a list of Predicted No Effect Concentrations (PNECs) for naturally occurring substances in produced water (OSPAR Agreement 2014-05) The document contains fact sheets describing properties, Predicted No Effect Concentration (PNEC), and background information for major hazardous substances.
- DIRECTIVE 2013/39/EU DIRECTIVE 2013/39/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 12 August 2013 amending Directives 2000/60/EC and 2008/105/EC as regards priority substances in the field of water policy.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
Data sources in latest figures
Limitations of current approach:
- Emissions data used for indicator development includes only data from E-PRTR facilities.
- Only releases from E-PRTR facilities are considered (not transfers into collecting systems).
- Data on value added is considered for the whole manufacturing industry (i.e. including facilities other than E-PRTR).
The concept of decoupling is attractive for its simplicity. Charts illustrating an increasing GVA, together with decreasing emission load, may lead to simplified conclusions. Synthetic decoupling indicators often convey mixed or double messages. In a growing economy, relative decoupling will imply that environmental pressures are still rising. If economic activity is falling, relative or even absolute decoupling may not imply a positive development for society as a whole. The relationship between economic driving forces and environmental pressures is complex. Most driving forces have multiple environmental effects, and most pressures are generated by multiple driving forces, which are the reason that there is a need to use decoupling indicators within a more complex analytical framework.
Data sets uncertainty
The E-PRTR database combines data reported under the EPER (between 2001-2004). E- PRTR builds on the same principles as EPER but goes beyond it by including reporting on more pollutants from more activities, and includes releases to land, releases from diffuse sources and off-site transfers of wastes and effluents. This may explain differences between the numbers of facilities and emission intensities between 2004 and 2007.
WISE SoE Emissions database data could not be used for the development of the indicators due to the following reasons:
- differences in data temporal coverage making international comparison impossible
- missing attribute specifying the type of industry of the emission source
Data on aggregated emissions from industries (all facilities, including the E-PRTR facilities), as reported under the WISE SoE Emission data flow, was used to determine the proportion of emissions from E-PRTR facilities in total emissions from industries (in terms of metal equivalents). the calculated values of metal equivalents (aggregated value for Ni, Pb, Cd and Hg) were compared. In Finland, France, Portugal, Spain, Norway and Sweden the total emissions load reported under WISE SoE Emissions correspond (for 2010) to the load reported under E-PRTR. The E-PRTR load in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Romania ranged from 8% - 80% of the total load of industrial emissions.
Furthermore, the EPRTR derived emission loads in Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Latvia, Hungary and Slovakia were much higher than the values reported under the WISE SoE Emissions.
The comparison of E-PRTR loads and the loads reported under the WISE SoE Emissions reflects the wide diversity of the data on industrial emissions, but also raises the issue of the comparability of data on emissions reported under different data flows.
Specific examples of data uncertainties:
In-depth data analysis of emissions from Belgian industrial facilities reported in the E-PRTR database indicates that a significant increase in nutrients emission intensity in the period analysed is most likely caused by an increase in the industrial activity (8) “Animal and vegetable products from the food and beverages sector” between 2009-2010. Aggregated discharged load increased from 142 (2) to 2373 (4) t total N and from 24 (2) to 603 (5)t total P. The increase for N is consistent also for 2011, while for P it drops back to 337 (4) in 2011. Numbers in brackets are corresponding numbers of facilities.
The increase in the heavy metals emission from metal industry in 2009, as compared to previous years, was checked and confirmed in an in-depth data analysis. Furthermore, it was found that the emission of heavy metals from the metal industry reported for the subsequent year (2010) dropped (e.g. for lead) by 65%, and further decreased in 2012.
Norway: Data reported under the food industry (intensive aquaculture) was not included in the emissions from manufacturing industries due to a discrepancy between coverage for economic data (GVA) and emission data for facilities. Similarly, intensive aquaculture was not assessed in the specific assessment of emission intensity of the food industry.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoBo Jacobsen
Frequency of updates
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/emission-intensity-of-manufacturing-industries-1 or scan the QR code.
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