Low carbon economy
The European Commission’s “Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050” suggests that, by 2050, the EU should cut its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels through domestic reductions alone. It also sets out milestones which form a cost-effective pathway to this goal - reductions of the order of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040. It shows how the main sectors responsible for Europe's emissions, including industry, can make the transition to a low-carbon economy most cost-effectively.
Energy: Winter Package
The “Clean Energy For All Europeans” package, more commonly referred to as the “Winter Package”, consists of numerous legislative Proposals together with accompanying documents and aims at further completing the internal market for electricity and implementing the Energy Union. View the Communication and press release on the Winter Package. The Winter Package contains the following legislative Proposals:
Proposal for a recast of the Internal Electricity Market Directive
Proposal for a recast of the Internal Electricity Market Regulation
Proposal for a recast of the ACER Regulation
Proposal for a Regulation on Risk-Preparedness in the Electricity Sector and Repealing the Security of Supply Directive
Proposal for a recast of the Renewable Energy Directive
Proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive
Proposal for a revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
Proposal for a Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union.
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
The EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) is seen as a cornerstone of the European Union's policy to combat climate change. The EU ETS works on the 'cap and trade' principle. Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. After each year a company must surrender enough allowances to cover its emissions. We are currently in Phase III of the EU-ETS, which runs from 2013-2020. Phase IV of the EU-ETS, which will apply post-2020, is now being debated at EU level. So far, the European Commission has published its proposal for reviewing the Directive (July 2015). On 15 February 2017, the European Parliament adopted a report which outlines its views on the Commission's proposal and the Council adopted its general approach text on 28 February. The trilogue will kick off on 4 April.
The European Commission is currently investigating ways in which the EU’s waste to energy potential can be fully exploited, as part of the Energy Union strategy. With this in mind, it has undertaken an analysis of the solutions currently available across the EU, whilst at the same time evaluating the challenges faced by waste-to-energy operations. The focus is primarily on the best possible utilisation of waste streams that are non-preventable, non-reusable, non-recyclable, in line with the waste hierarchy. On 26 January 2017, the Commission published a Communication in which it provides Member States with guidance when evaluating and revising their waste management plans. This document, which is linked to the EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy, illustrates how it is possible to generate energy from waste which is neither recyclable nor reusable. This guidance document recognises co-processing in the cement industry as a waste-to-energy solution. Member States with low or non-existent dedicated incineration capacity and high reliance on landfill should take a long-term perspective and carefully assess the available capacity for co-incineration in combustion plants and in cement and lime kilns or in other suitable industrial processes.
Cement manufacturing is covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). This Directive specifies how to control emissions from industrial sources other than CO2, through the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT) which are defined in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs). Cement plants operate in accordance with a permit granted by the authorities in the Member States following the principles and provisions of the IED. The reference for setting the permit conditions is the BREF and its BAT conclusions, which describe, in particular, applied techniques, present emissions and consumption levels.
CEMBUREAU takes part in a formal exchange of information expert group organised by the European Commission that meets regularly to review and update BREFs.
Adopted in 2011, the EU’s biodiversity strategy carries the ambitious aim of halting the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Under this umbrella, the European Commission is working on a series of policies which aim to achieve this goal. EU legislation in this field is underpinned by the Birds and Habitats Directives. After consulting with stakeholders, the Commission recognised the value of these Directives and decided not to review them. Nevertheless, the consultation showed that more needs to be done to tackle their implementation at Member State level. The Commission is now working on an Action Plan to tackle this.
One other area of concern are Invasive Alien Species (IAS), which have become one of the main contributors to the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe. IAS are animals and plants that have been introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, and which have a serious negative consequence on their new environment. The EU is working closely with the Member States to prevent, detect, manage and eradicate IAS, under the IAS regulation.
On 2 December 2015, the European Commission adopted its ambitious Circular Economy package with four legislative proposals on waste, including a proposal to review the Waste Framework Directive. The Commission's aim is to reduce the amount of waste generated by encouraging improvements in the way waste is managed and recycled at Member State level. To do this, it has set several targets which include the recycling of municipal and packaging waste, and reducing the amount sent to landfill. This proposal is currently making its way through the EU's decision-making process. On 14 March 2017, the European Parliament (Plenary) voted on the Environment Committee report. Negotiations will now start with the Council.
Respirable Crystalline Silica
Crystalline silica is an essential component in a multitude of materials used in industrial production and life. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is the respirable dust fraction of crystalline silica which enters the body by inhalation. Although crystalline silica is ubiquitous in nature, the inhalation of RCS may constitute a hazard to workers. Currently, there is no harmonized European binding Occupational Exposure Limit (BOEL) for RCS exposure. However, most European Member States have already set national RCS OEL values. The European Commission issued a proposal on 13 May 2016 to include work related exposure to RCS dust under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. It recommends the establishment of a binding OEL of 0.1 mg/m³. The European Parliament's Employment Committee has voted the Ulvskog draft report which proposes a RCS BOELV of 0.05 mg/m3, with a transition value of 0.1 mg/m3 until 10 years after entry into force - to be reviewed 5 years after entry into force. The trilogue between the European Parliament, the Council and Commission is expected to start mid-March 2017.
REACH & CLP
When it comes to health and safety and communicating with downstream users, the most relevant legislative texts are as follows:
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemical substances), the role of which is to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals. Under REACH, every substance manufactured or imported in the EU above 1 tonne must be registered by the entity that imports or manufactures it, unless it is exempt from registration. Furthermore, there is an obligation to communicate upstream (towards suppliers) and downstream (to customers) on substances by means of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and chemical safety reports as the case may be. As defined by REACH, SDS are the key tool for hazard and risk management communication in the supply chain.
Classification, Labelling & Packaging (CLP) Regulation, which harmonises requirements concerning the classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures in line with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) approved by the United Nations.
Construction Products Regulation
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) - Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 - “lays down harmonised rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU. The Regulation provides a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products. It ensures that reliable information is available to professionals, public authorities, and consumers, so they can compare the performance of products from different manufacturers in different countries.” (source European Commission). Harmonised standards, developed by CEN, as well as providing technical information about a product, contain a part (Annex ZA) laying out the rules of for the CE marking and drawing up a declaration of performance (DoP) in accordance with the CPR. The European cement standard, EN 197-1, was the first harmonised standard in Europe.
Energy efficient buildings
On 30 November 2016, the European Commission launched its “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package. The package, contains important items relating to buildings, including proposed revisions of the Directives on Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD), Energy Efficiency (EED) and Renewable Energy, and a new “Smart Finance for Smart Buildings” initiative.
CEN/TC 350 “Sustainability of construction works” is the CEN body that drafts standards on sustainability assessment of construction works. The set of standards includes methods for evaluating across the three pillars of sustainability, from the building or construction works level down to the level of construction products. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), developed according to standard EN 15804, provide the relevant environmental information for assessment at building level. In this respect, CEN/TC 51 “Cement & building limes” is the body which is developing Product Category Rules (PCR) for EPDs for cement and building limes.
In 2014, the European Commission adopted a Communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector. The Communication focuses on two main areas: working towards a common European approach to assess the environmental performance of buildings; and tackling construction & demolition waste. Further to this, a Working Paper was adopted in which the following 6 six macro-objectives at building level were proposed in order to identify related performance indicators
Greenhouse gas emissions from building life cycle energy use
Resource efficient material life cycles
Efficient use of water resources
Healthy and comfortable spaces
Resilience to climate change
Optimised life cycle cost and value
Following on from this, in 2016 a consultation was launched in order to obtain feedback from stakeholders on the first draft indicator proposals.
Construction & demolition waste
According to the Commission, about 450-500 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&DW) is generated every year in Europe, at least a third of which is concrete. Nevertheless, only around a third to two thirds of the C&DW generated is recycled. This low recycling rate is not due to technical difficulties - it’s market realities. Against this backdrop the European Commission has embarked on several initiatives to analyse and improve construction and demolition waste (C&DW) recycling rates across Europe. It published its Protocol on C&DW Management in November 2016 and is working on pre-demolition audit guidance.