Industrial pollution in Europe

Page Last modified 19 Nov 2019
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Industry is a key component of Europe’s economy and plays a significant role in the economic well-being of our continent. At the same time, industrial activities are a source of pressure on the environment in the form of emissions to the atmosphere and water ecosystems, generation of waste and consumption of resources.

Pollution form industrial activities is widespread in Europe but, at the same time, certain sectors and the largest industrial installations account for a considerable share of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants.

Most of the emissions in Europe are concentrated in the energy sector and certain manufacturing industries. The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) has compiled data from the largest industrial point sources in Europe since 2007. It covers 91 different pollutants to air, water and land from around 30 000 industrial facilities across Europe.

The EEA, using the data officially submitted by countries to that inventory, provides analysis of industrial pollution in Europe. These are some recent examples:

Greening the power sector: benefits of an ambitious implementation of Europe's environment and climate policies (online briefing)

Environmental pressures of heavy metal releases from Europe's industry (online briefing)

Releases of pollutants to the environment from Europe’s industrial sector in 2015 (online briefing)

Costs of air pollution from European industrial facilities 2008–2012 (report)

While these assessments show that the environmental performance of European industry has improved in recent decades, the sector is still responsible for significant amounts of pollution.

European legislation has delivered concrete reductions in pollution but a transition to a greener European industrial sector will require integrated approaches, with stronger control of pollution at source, incentives to change operating practices and use of innovative technologies.


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