The Environment Protection Department within the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) regulates installations that are within scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU). Provisions for installations and activities using organic solvents have been transposed via Legal Notice 9 of 2013 and Legal Notice 12 of 2013 and are being implemented through the Environmental Permitting system. Installations whose activities fall within scope of this legislation require an operational permit from MEPA (Environmental Permit) in order to carry out these activities. The EPD is requesting companies that fall within scope of Legal Notice 12 of 2013, Industrial Emissions (Limitation of Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulations, 2013 to inform the Authority and apply for a relevant operational permit.
What are VOC solvents?
Volatile organic compounds, as defined in EU Directive 2010/75/EU, are organic compounds having at 293.15 K a vapour pressure of 0.01 kPa or more, or having a corresponding volatility under the particular conditions of use. Due to their characteristics, the use of VOC solvents in certain installations gives rise to emissions of organic compounds that contribute directly to air pollution and climate change and are also ozone precursors i.e. they react chemically with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to form ozone. While ozone is beneficial in the upper atmosphere, where it shields the earth from dangerous UV rays, it can be harmful when present in high concentrations at ground level.
European and National Legislation
The Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU encompases five previously separated European Directives into one in order to facilitate the impemantation of the control of industrial emissions. The European Directive that regulated the emissions of volatile organic compounds from a wide range of industrial activities and installations (EU Directive 1999/13/EC) is one of the directives that has been integrated in the new Industrial Emissions Directive. Hence Directive 1999/13/EC has been replaced by 2010/75/EU.
The aim of the legislation targetting VOC emissions is to prevent or reduce the direct and indirect effects of such emissions into the environment and the potential risks to human health. The Directive provides solvent consumption thresholds and emission limit values for the respective activities, together with reduction schemes aimed at reducing emissions either by changing to solvent-free processes or use of solvents with lower VOC content. It should be noted that the scope of the Directive does not include painting activities. These are regulated separately by VOC Paints Directive (2004/42/EC).
The Paints Directive (2004/42/EC) complements measures taken at a national level in order to ensure compliance with the ceiling for emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds. The products falling under the scope of this Directive are paints for use on buildings or their trims, fittings and structures as well as paints used for vehicle refinishings. These products should have appropriate labelling when placed on the market, indicating the sub-category of the product (from Annex I of the Paints Directive), as well as the VOC content in g/L in its ready to use condition. Further information on this Directive can be found here.
The Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU was transposed in national legislation through five separate Legal Notices. The Industrial Emissions (Framework) Regulations, L.N. 9 of 2013 and the Industrial Emissions (Limitation of Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulations, 2013 (L.N 12 of 2013) are the two local legislation that relate directly to the VOC Emissions from solvents.