Emission intensity of manufacturing industries in Europe
The manufacturing industry in 11 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) has achieved absolute decoupling of nutrient emissions from economic growth (GVA). A decrease in emissions coupled with a decrease in gross value added (GVA) occurred in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium and Finland. However, in all cases (except Finland), the rate of emissions decrease was greater than that of GVA. An increase in nutrient emissions, accompanying the growth in GVA, was observed in Slovakia and Poland.
These developments arise from different absolute levels of emissions intensities and depend on there being no major changes in data coverage - such as including more facilities in the most recent reporting year despite them already existing in the earliest reporting year - within the countries during the reporting period. It should be noted that, as some industrial emissions may vary considerably from year to year, the comparison of just two selected years might be subject to variations, and not be representative of a consistent trend.
The achievement of absolute decoupling of manufacturing industries' heavy metals emissions from economic growth (GVA) was observed again in 12 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). A decrease in emissions, coupled with a decrease in GVA occurred in the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium. In all cases, the decrease in the rate of emissions was greater than that of GVA (relative decoupling). An increase in emissions, despite a drop in GVA, was observed in Finland and France. Finally, a growth in emissions accompanying economic growth occurred in the manufacturing industry in Hungary.
Given the multiple factors that affect both sectoral GVA and the pollution pressure originating from manufacturing, it is complicated to draw direct relationships between these two variables. Some key descriptors, which could aid in explaining this behaviour, are the structure of the sector (e.g. facility size distribution, production technology, relative proportion reported as E-PRTR releases), the socioeconomic characteristics (e.g. salary levels) of the area and the policy and/or economic measures in place (e.g. treatment requirements, pollution charges, taxes). However, it must be noted that the specific context of each country could result in varying combinations of the factors mentioned and their aggregate effects.
Is the emission to water of nutrients and heavy metals from manufacturing decoupling from economic growth?
The range of emission intensity values for heavy metals and nutrients vary considerably across Europe. This reflects the different facility size distributions in different countries and the degree to which the reported releases to water in E-PRTR dominate emissions, since all facilities in the sector are included in the GVA. The range also reflects transfers via urban wastewater treatment plants, which are not included in the indicator values. Therefore, it is not advisable to draw conclusions from the EU wide comparison of the absolute emission intensity values, but rather focus on the assessment of national trends in emissions intensity.
The lowest value of nutrient emission intensity for 2012 is 0.39 kg nutrients equivalent/million EURO GVA, while the highest value is 23.82 kg nutrients equivalent/million EURO GVA. The average 2012 nutrient emission intensity is about 8.5 kg nutrients equivalent/million EURO GVA. When compared to the last assessment, based on 2010 data, the range of emission intensities narrowed significantly, however, the average values, based on 2010 and 2012, do not differ too much. All assessed countries (except Iceland) fall in the 95% percentile (i.e. 18 million EURO GVA) of emission intensity. Relatively low values (< 5 kg nutrients equivalent/million EURO GVA were observed for Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Romania.
Similarly 2012 emission intensity values for heavy metals range between 1.18x10-5 and 0.022 kg heavy metals equivalent (mercury)/million EURO GVA. The average 2012 heavy metals emission intensity is 0.008 kg heavy metals equivalent (mercury)/million EURO GVA. The highest values (> 0.01 kg heavy metals equivalent (mercury)/million EURO GVA) were recorded for Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, whereas the lowest values (smaller by two orders of magnitude) were calculated for Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Slovenia.
A decrease in the emission intensity of nutrients occurred in 20 out of 23 countries assessed over the period 2004-2012. Heavy metals emission intensity decreased in 17 out of 24 countries assessed over the same period. A wide variety of emission intensity across Europe could be explained by different levels of implementation and enforcement of EU policy regarding emissions to water (reflected in the number of facilities reported over the period 2004-2012), by different levels of the eco-innovations and economic incentives applied in the manufacturing sector across Europe, and also by country differences regarding the main manufacturing sectors contributing to the country's economy.
Is the emission to water of organic matter from the chemical industry decoupling from economic growth?
Values of the total organic carbon (TOC) emission intensity of chemical industries in Europe range from 85 to 5041 kg TOC/million EURO GVA. The average 2012 value is 872 kg TOC/million EURO GVA. The emission intensity values decreased since 2004 in 14 out of 17 assessed countries. The highest values of emission intensity for 2012 were observed in Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, however, in Romania and Slovakia the TOC emission load has shown a downward trend since 2004. The GVA for the chemical industry in Romania, and especially Bulgaria and Slovakia, belong to the lowest in the EU over the last decade and reflect problems such as an inability to compete due to a lack of financial resources, increased prices of raw materials, ecological requirements, expensive bank loans, leading to the closure of a great number of chemical enterprises.
Absolute decoupling of TOC emissions from GVA was observed in 10 of the 17 countries assessed (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal Slovakia and Spain). On the other hand, a growth in emissions along with economic growth was observed for the chemical industry in Austria and Poland.
Is the emission to water of heavy metals from the metal processing industry decoupling from economic growth?
Values of heavy metals emission intensity for metal processing industries in Europe range from 5.48*10-4 to 0.16 kg of heavy metals equivalent (mercury)/million EURO GVA. The average 2012 value is 0.024 kg of heavy metals equivalent (mercury)/million EURO GVA. The highest emission intensity values calculated for 2012 were found in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. Emission values of the countries falling into the same range of GVA for the metal industry as Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary are much lower than values in these countries.
Absolute decoupling of heavy metals equivalent emissions from GVA was achieved in 10 of the 17 countries assessed (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia). Relative decoupling was observed in Belgium, Spain, Italy and France. Growth of emissions along with economic growth was found in Hungary.
Is the emission to water of nutrients from the food industry decoupling from economic growth?
Values of the total nutrient emission intensity of food industries in Europe range from 0.24 to 34.4 kg of nutrient equivalent/million EURO GVA. The average 2009 value is 7 kg of nutrient equivalent/million EURO GVA. Emission intensity values for the food industry in Norway, United Kingdom and Belgium exceeded 10 kg of nutrient equivalent/million EURO GVA and were the highest in Europe. Significant differences in total emission values (ranging from 9 620 to 878 203 kg) between large food industries (e.g. in United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and United Kingdom) belonging to the same GVA range (i.e. above 25 000 million EURO), indicate a different level in the implementation of the UWWTD (relevant for food industry) and possibly a different level of pollution abatement and eco-innovation .
Absolute decoupling of nutrient emissions from GVA was observed in Norway, Italy, Sweden, Portugal and the Netherlands. Relative decoupling was achieved in France, Hungary and the United Kingdom. A significant increase in emissions along with economic growth was observed in Spain.
Indicator specification and metadata
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.
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.
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.
The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR), Member States reporting under Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 166/2006
provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
National Accounts by 38 branches - aggregates at current prices
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Water (Primary topic)
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
- WREI 003
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoBo Jacobsen
EEA Management Plan2014 1.5.1 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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