Updated food, drink and milk BREF: What manufacturers need to know

With the latest guidance published on controlling the impact of pollution and discharges from food, drink and milk manufacturing sites, businesses must now ensure their processes comply fully. This includes the site’s water and wastewater treatment processes.

In December 2019, the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Bureau published the updated Best Available Techniques (BAT) and BAT Reference (BREF) documents for the food, drink and milk (FDM) industry. These ‘techniques’ are the best practice solutions for preventing or minimising the environmental impacts of a site’s operation. The BREF also contains BAT Associated Emission Levels (BAT AELs), standards for discharges from the installation to air and water that must be met.

In real terms the concept of best available technique means:

- Best - most effective in achieving a high general level of protection of the environment as a whole.

- Available – techniques developed on a scale to be implemented under economically and technically viable conditions with advantages balanced against costs.

- Technique - not only the technology used but also how the installation is designed, built, maintained, operated and even decommissioned.

The newly released BREF for the FDM sector builds on and updates the original document published in 2006. The European Commission reviews and updates the BREFs for different sectors on a rolling basis and the FDM BREF has been undergoing the review process since December 2013. This has included consulting with a group of representative businesses from the sector to understand what can be achieved and the potential impact of the proposed changes.

Now that the updated guidance has been released, manufacturers have until November 2023 to ensure their operations comply. The scale of changes required to meet the new standards will vary from site to site, so it is important to ensure that enough time is allowed for analysis, planning and implementation. Furthermore, it is likely that the Environment Agency, the body that oversees the implementation in the UK, will be monitoring progress towards meeting the new standards and practices.

In total the document runs to more than 800 pages and interpreting the requirements for an individual business is not simple. As a significant part of the guidance relates to wastewater treatment and water consumption it is recommended that manufacturers engage with a specialist water treatment solutions provider who can assist in interpreting how the BATs and BAT AELs apply to their operations.

How can we help?

At Veolia Water Technologies UK (VWT UK) we have vast experience in the FDM sector having partnered with organisations such as Robert Wiseman Dairies, Arla Foods and Fisherman’s Friend to meet their water supply and water treatment needs.

We can offer in-depth, comprehensive audits of the water cycle to help identify areas of non-compliance and where improvements can be made. At VWT UK we have a wide range of industrial wastewater treatment solutions and technologies available to best suit the needs of the site and the treatment required. Our expert team can also advise on water resource optimisation. This includes how water reuse systems can be put in place to reduce both water consumption and costs as well as how new revenue streams can be opened up through biogas production and phosphorus recovery.

Furthermore, our design and technical teams are backed by national and European resources and can draw on innovations being made around the world to deliver the best possible water and wastewater solution.

While the 2023 deadline currently appears to be far off, it is important to begin the process of ensuring compliance as soon as possible. While some providers will claim that solutions can be put in place rapidly, the reality is that rushing the design and implementation of any new water system can lead to on-going issues and even non-compliance. This can increase overall expenditure and even risk regulatory action against the business.

Contact our team here to discuss your site’s needs and find out more about how we can help. 

Kalpesh Shah

About the Author

Kalpesh Shah

Kalpesh Shah is the Industrial Sales Manager for Veolia Water Technologies UK. He started out working within internal sales in the early 90's before moving into international sales. In 2000, his focus led him into project management where he worked on a variety of complex and demanding projects with clients ranging from the NHS, Industrial and Pharmaceutical, for over a decade. He then moved into pharmaceutical business development which he did successfully until his promotion to Industrial Sales Manager. Kalpesh has 26 years of extensive experience with all types of industrial water treatment systems and processes. He is able to support his clients with the design and implementation of efficient water treatment systems using an array of technologies.