Industry across Europe is responsible for more than half of all carbon dioxide, particulate matter and other key pollutants emitted into the air, according to updated industrial pollution country profiles published recently by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The 33 profiles of the member countries of the EEA (EEA-33) give an updated snapshot of sources of industrial pollution across Europe. The interactive profiles summarise the latest data available (from 2015) related to industry, and cover air and water emissions, waste generation (in this case from 2014), energy and water use.
The country profiles complement the EEA briefing ‘Releases of pollutants to the environment from Europe’s industrial sector,’ published in July.
Industry remains a major emitter of pollution
Industry makes a significant contribution to Europe’s economic wellbeing and is responsible for more than a fifth of economic value generated across the EEA-33. European Union policies — specifically the EU’s Industrial Policy Strategy — aim for a low-carbon industrial sector: one that is based on circular material flows that draw less and less on natural resources, reduces pollutant emissions to air, water and land, and generates decreasing amounts of waste over time. Based on the best available data from countries, the EEA’s industrial pollution country profiles help track progress towards these overarching aims.
This set of industry country profiles show that the sector remains a significant source of pollution. While greenhouse gas and other pollution emissions have steadily decreased since 2007, the sector still emitted more than half of all carbon dioxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds, particulate matter (PM10), sulphur oxides and the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury into the air in 2015. The energy industry, specifically large combustion plants, was responsible for a large share of releases of these pollutants. In Malta, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Poland and Ireland, for example, energy providers emitted more than 90 % of sulphur oxide emissions in 2015.
Other key findings:
- Industry is responsible for a quarter of the energy consumption in the EEA-33, including up to half in Iceland and more than 40 % in Slovakia and Finland.
- Industrial emissions of the above mentioned pollutants and greenhouse gases to air have decreased since 2007 in the EEA-33. Noteworthy exceptions include increased cadmium emissions in Greece and Portugal. Releases associated with large power plants are overall down in all EEA-33, among them sulphur oxide releases (down by 70 %), particulate matter (PM10; down by 69 %) and nitrogen oxides (down by 46 %).
- Industrial emissions of key pollutants to water such as nitrogen, phosphorous, total organic compounds (TOC) and important heavy metals have also been reduced but some of them to a lesser degree.
- Industry is responsible for more than half of the non-hazardous waste generated in EEA-33 and more than two thirds of the hazardous waste. Overall, all industrial sub-sectors except energy, cement production and the waste industry itself reported a reduction of the amount of waste generated since 2004 in EEA-33. Similar to wastewater treatment plants, the waste industry reports secondary wastes originating from other industrial processes (and form non-industrial sources like households and services).
More information is available on the EEA website.