The revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive must speed up innovation – not hamper it

1 Mar 2023

By Eva Tormo, Senior Manager Regulatory Affairs – Environment & Compliance

With its wide range of uses in consumer products such as smartphones, laptops, and coffee makers, aluminium is already a material we all use daily. But as consumers and governments increasingly move towards more sustainable choices, we will use aluminium even more. Aluminium is a key component in electric vehicles, solar panels, electricity grids, and more. Basically, you won’t be able to get things plugged and/or powered if there is no aluminium in them[1].

But of course, these green technologies should be made with sustainable raw materials, according to the highest environmental, safety, and health standards. European aluminium production is already one of the most sustainable in the world, thanks to Europe’s ambitious legislation and our industry’s commitment to sustainability. But we recognise we can and must go much further and faster to reach our net-zero emissions objective by 2050.

That’s why aluminium companies invest significant resources into research and development, just like big tech leaders such as Google allocate 20% of employee time to innovation[2]. They are equipped with world-leading in-house research experts and have been developing and testing technologies to improve environmental and product performance for decades. Having spent the last four years working as Environment, Health, and Safety Manager, I can certainly vouch for that.

Today, the Commission’s review of the Industrial Emissions Directive[3] text (also called IED 2.0) aims at gearing up European industrial operators with different mechanisms to foster innovation as well as strengthening the JRC capacities for looking into new and emerging technologies. Commission officials have unquestionably rolled up their sleeves and equipped the EIPPCB with the needed tools by creating INCITE[4] (Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions). But that’s not all: the Members of the European Parliament also wish to contribute to the cause, and another proposal for creating a list of “EU-50 technologies” was equally put forward.

In principle, the Commission’s suggestions have great potential, but the suggested one-size-fits-all approach with regard to technology development misses the mark as not all industries and companies have the same capacity to implement the already suggested techniques during the BREF processes today. Including those takes time. Besides, defining innovative techniques shall consider the company size and availability of such technology to the public, as well as creating lines of finance helping companies support the process by testing them at plant scale because it fails to differentiate between innovation leaders and laggards.

Another example of a well-intentioned but ultimately detrimental initiative is the EU-50 technologies list initiated by the European Parliament, which intends to determine potential technologies that can help industry move forward. We live in a time of fast technological development, and it would be impossible to put together a list of the 50 most important technologies without leaving out some that might be key for industry progress in the future. Additionally, such a list would fragment the market, as it is impossible to accurately define which technologies are pioneering, considering the various ways they are used across industries.

It’s clear that the revision of the IED, a highly complex and technical file, requires all relevant industries to have a seat at the discussion table. The aluminium industry is a partner. Our companies and experts are happy to put their wealth of knowledge at the disposal of the authorities. Having these experienced professionals with a hands-on perspective at the discussion table when revising the IED will help ensure efficient legislation that allows European industries to remain climate and innovation leaders.

[1] The Advantages of Aluminum as a Conductor Material (link)

[2] Google Says It Still Uses the ’20-Percent Rule,’ and You Should Totally Copy It (link)

[3] EC Revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (link)

[4] Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions (INCITE) –


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