The situation in Europe

In Europe, the Industrial Emission Directive (IED, or Directive 2010/75/EU from the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on Industrial Emissions) establishes a general framework for determining limits intending to control odour emissions for many industrial activities or processes.

The IED applies to the energy industry, metal production and processing, waste management, chemical and mineral industry and agriculture sectors such as animal production.

Under the IED, industries can operate if they hold a written permit or, in some cases, if they are registered. Compliance to the permit is based on certain conditions which are drawn from the concept of Best Available Techniques. To determine these Best Available Techniques and associated emission levels, reference documents for BAT (named BREF) are drawn up.

Installations operating with a permit will have to comply with a defined range of emission limits associated with the best available technology for their sector, as referenced by the BREF documents.

As of 2019, the only BREF in Europe that set an odour limit is the recently published Waste Treatment BREF that establishes a range of 200 to 1000 ouE∙m−3 as the maximum allowed odour concentration for some BATs related to the biological treatment of waste.

It is important to note that BREFs are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. The BREFs do not consider local conditions, so their application leaves room for regulating authorities to apply further restrictions or recommendations based on the local context.

Some other legally binding documents and guidelines related to odours are available in a few European countries. Those odour regulations are used when no specific criteria are set in a BREF, or when the IED does not cover the odour-emitting activity.

To find out more about country or region-specific odour regulations, please refer to the Regulations Map.


Map of Asia

South America

Map of South America

North America

Map of North America

Australia/New Zealand

Map of Australasia
Bulgarian BG Catalan CA English EN French FR German DE Greek EL Italian IT Portuguese PT Spanish ES