Austrian EPA calls for co-incineration clean-up

Industry should spend fuel cost savings on best available technology to cut pollution, says agency

Austrian firms that burn wastes as fuels in industrial processes should be subject to the same emissions standards as dedicated waste incineration plants, the country's environment agency has stated. The agency says that the stricter limits could be achieved using proven clean-up technology, and paid for out of the savings industry makes thorough reduced fuel costs.

Waste burning by industry is subject to less strict emission limits than are dedicated waste incinerators under Austrian law, particularly for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx). EU governments have agreed similar provisions under the draft EU waste incineration directive, especially for cement kilns (ENDS Daily 25 June 1999), though the European Parliament looks set to call for NOx limits for cement kilns to be tightened (ENDS Daily 19 January).

Austrian environment agency official, Isabella Kossina, told ENDS Daily that an existing lack of dedicated waste incineration capacity in Austria was expected to worsen when a ban on landfilling waste with more than 5% organic content took effect in 2004. This was increasing the likelihood of industry increasing its waste burn, as made clear by recent statements from Austria's cement industry (ENDS Daily 14 January) and the agency wanted to ensure that this would not lead to an increase in emissions.

The agency argues that cement kilns can limit emissions of NOx to just 100-200 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) by using selective catalytic reduction. It says that pilot plants in Austria, Germany and Italy have proven this. In their first reading common position, EU ministers agreed a limit of 800 mg/m3, compared with 200 mg/m3 for dedicated waste incinerators. The European Parliament's rapporteur on the directive has proposed reducing the cement kiln NOx limit to 500 mg/m3.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment agency, +43 1 313040.

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