EEA: industry across Europe responsible for over half of key pollutants in air

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 today by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

A new EEA study shows that industry remains a major emitter of pollution. Country by country profiles (33) related to industry, and cover air and water emissions, waste generation (in this case from 2014), energy and water use.

While industry makes a significant contribution to Europe’s economic wellbeing, 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.

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.

The study shows that:

  • – 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).

Further information


December 6, 2017
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