Directive 1999/13/EC

Council Directive 1999/13/EC of 11 March 1999 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations.

This directive aims to prevent or reduce the direct and indirect effects of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on the environment and human health, by setting emission limits for such compounds and laying down operating conditions for installations using organic solvents.

The emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere contribute to the formation of the tropospheric ozone (ozone in the lower atmosphere). Large quantities of this ozone may be harmful to people, vegetation, forests and crops. Sensitive people may suffer irritation of the throat and eyes, as well as respiratory difficulties. Tropospheric ozone is also a greenhouse gas.

The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive is the main policy instrument for the reduction of industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the European Union. It covers a wide range of solvent using activities, e.g. printing (i.e. flexible packaging), surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products. The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive requires installations in which such activities are applied to comply either with the emission limit values set out in the Directive or with the requirements of the so-called reduction scheme. The Directive sets out emission limit values for VOCs in waste gases and maximum levels for fugitive emissions (expressed as percentage of solvent input) or total emission limit values. The purpose of the reduction scheme is to allow the operator the possibility to achieve by other means emission reductions, equivalent to those achieved if the emission limit values were to be applied. This could be typically achieved by substituting products with a high content of solvents for low-solvent or solvent-free products and changing to solvent free production processes. New installations have to comply with the requirements of the VOC Solvents Emissions Directive at the time they are starting the activity. The final implementation date for existing installations was 31 October 2007.