Page Last modified 20 Apr 2016
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Industry is for most countries one of the main contributors to generating income. In 1991, it accounted for up to 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, and in the Russian Federation about 40 per cent of GDP; in the EU manufacturing industry accounted for almost 25 per cent of GDP in 1991, while in Nordic countries in 1990, the proportion of manufacturing in GDP was one quarter or less.

The purpose of industrial activities is primarily to manufacture goods for final consumption, and for the manufacture of other products (intermediate consumption). In meeting these demands, manufacturing industries have an impact on the environment, through processing of raw materials and their subsequent manufacture into finished products. Even if the processes used are designed to minimise emissions (that is, if they are environmentally 'clean'), or employ emissions abatement technology (known as 'end-of-pipe'), any manufacturing industry will contribute to some extent to environmental impacts through the use of energy and raw materials. The environmental significance of a manufacturing activity can be greater if the raw materials used are non-renewable. The main impacts arise directly: as a result of emissions to air or water, or by their effects on the land and soil, mainly near the site of production, as well as from wastes generated and deposited.

In addition to manufacturing, industrial activities also include service industries such as catering, cleaning, or financial services, and although carrying out these activities can result in sometimes significant environmental impacts, these are not generally covered in this chapter.

Although manufacturing industry itself is a contributor to many and various types of contamination, pollution and use of non-renewable resources, industry also plays a major role in providing solutions to environmental problems. This includes the development of new processes and the machinery necessary for effective pollution abatement, and introducing new technologies and product modification. Industry in Europe is under continuous pressure to improve its productivity and product quality, but at the same time must adapt to strong and growing constraints ­ often legal ­ on pollution emissions and energy consumption. On the one hand, the use of pollution control devices is, in general, detrimental to the efficiency of the plant; on the other, improvement in the efficiency of processes and equipment will directly reduce the specific emissions per unit of output.

The approach in this chapter is first to look at the importance of 'industry' as a whole in terms of emissions and use of natural resources, and to give a general overview of some of the industrial data relevant to environmental questions. The aim of the second part of the chapter is to illustrate, using specific sectors, some examples of 'environmental performance data' from different industrial activities in parts of Europe. The chapter also considers the ways in which business practice has changed in response to environmental challenges faced by industry.

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