The First odour emission limit for 28 European countries is here

biological waste odours BREF   The 17th of August, the Decision of the European Commission establishing the best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for Waste Treatment (WT), have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This legislative text mentions fifty-three BATs for use in WT. Among those 53 BATs, the BAT number 34 includes 5 techniques: Adsorption, Biofiltration, fabric filter, thermal oxidation and wet scrubbing. This legislation sets a range of 200 to 1000 ouE/m3 as the maximum allowed odour concentration for these BATs for biological treatment of waste.

   The last meeting of the Technical Working Group that discussed the renovation of the former BAT Reference (BREF) Document on Waste Treatment (WT) took place in march 2017. After a few drafts and plenty of discussion, the final draft was published in October 2017. This final draft marked a new milestone in the odour management for twenty-eight (28) countries of Europe, as it was the first BREF that included an odour emission limit. This month the final conclusions of this BREF have been published and this odour limit is now law.

   An important part of the BREFs are the BAT conclusions, as they include the emission levels associated with the best available techniques (BAT-AELs) and the monitoring that goes along with it. There are many BAT-AELs for this new WT BREF. In fact, there is much information about odour emission concentration for several activities along the document.

   This BREF of WT sets a range of 200 to 1000 ouE/Nm3 as the maximum allowed odour concentration for BATs in use for the biological treatment of waste. There is no information about in which cases it is necessary to set a limit of 200 ouE/Nm3 and in which cases the activity can go up to 1000 ouE/Nm3.*

  The associated monitoring is given in BAT 8 and it is mentioned dynamic olfactometry (EN 13725) performed every 6-month. The Reference Report on Monitoring (ROM) brings an interesting chapter dealing with odour management in industrial activities

   According to these conclusions, it is possible instead to use ammonia as indicator of the odour emission of a plant.

   Unfortunately, these BAT conclusions do not address landfill of waste, which is an important source of odour impact in some cases. However, all in all, these are great news that have many consequences as it paves the way for more BAT-AELs involving odour emission in other BREFs.

   We are happy to hear that the Commission changed their initial view published this February after a petition of a group of people of the ZUT University led by Mr Bogdan Ambrożek. The Commission mentioned at that time that "odour should best be addressed at local level by the competent authorities" and "it does not intend to propose any additional specific requirements regulating odour nuisances". This is the first odour emission limit for 28 European countries.

   Congratulations from to the BREF group that produced this text.

   Article reviewed and corrected the 03/09/2018


* please note that the odour concentration is given according to the EN 13725 at room temperature (293 K), normal atmospheric pressure (101,3 kPa) on a wet basis. The conditions were chosen by convention, to reflect typical conditions for smell perception.


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Carlos Nietzsche Diaz Jimenez's Avatar

Carlos Nietzsche Diaz Jimenez

Carlos is the editor-chief of and has been in the odour world since 2001. Since then, Carlos has attended over 90 conferences in odour management, both national and international and authored a few papers on the subject. He has also organized a few international meetings and courses. Carlos owns a small company named Ambiente et Odora (AEO). He spends his free time with his wife and his twins, Laura and Daniel, and of course, writing on