Water, Soil & Waste

Water is a unique resource and its management raises issues on an international level across many areas of society (as reflected in the 2016 UN Sustainable Development Goals). It is also a vital resource for refinery operations, with the volume of water used being comparable to the volume of oil processed.

Since the founding of Concawe great progress has been made towards improving water quality in Europe. Refineries have played their part in this, with substantial reductions in discharges and improvements in effluent quality leading to large reductions in the quantities of pollutants discharged to surface waters. The work of member companies during this period of technological and legislative change has been supported by Concawe’s water-related research activities, which address the efficient use of water resources and minimization of discharges to the environment.

Current areas of focus for Concawe include the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the associated Directives on Groundwater Protection and Environmental Quality Standards (EQS), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and OSPAR (Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic). In addition, Concawe provides input to BREF (Best Available Technique REFerence document) revisions, where these are relevant to the oil industry’s activities under the IED. It also follows developments in contaminated land legislation and the EU Thematic Soil Strategy.

In 2016 the European Commission launched a revised circular economy package containing four legislative proposals on EU waste policy, including a revision of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive (WsFD). The initiative concerns many aspects of refinery operations from the efficient use of water resources to increased re-use, recovery and recycling of wastes and Concawe is working to provide the information needed for effective decision making in this area.

Finally, the impact of good water, soil and waste management on emerging issues such as “Global Warming” and “Biodiversity” should not be underestimated. Considerable efforts will be required of the oil industry in these areas in the foreseeable future and Concawe intends to play an important role in developing sound science to address these issues.

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