STS BREF - Surface Treatment using Organic Solvents

The coil coating industry is part of the so-called STS BREF (Surface Treatment using Organic Solvents). A BREF is a descriptive document and, although it does not have any have legal status, it gives guidance to industry, member states and the public on the achievable emission and consumption levels when using specified BAT techniques within a particular industry. The document defines the maximum emission limits for all EU member states. Each member state is able to define a lower limit depending on local policies and conditions.

All BREFs, including the STS BREF are reviewed on an approximate 10-year cycle. The first STS BREF was completed in 2007 and the second document entered EU legislation in 2020.

The process to review the Reference Document on Best Available Techniques on Surface Treatment using Organic Solvents (STS BREF document) involved ECCA submitting relevant information to the European Commission. The STS BREF addresses installations for the surface treatment of substances, objects or products using organic solvents. These installations include coil coating lines and the new STS BREF document defines new emission limits for waste gases and chemical species to water for every European coil coating facility. Companies need to comply with the new legislation by 2024 to maintain their licence to operate. Any new coil coating line in Europe will need to comply with the new limits immediately it starts production.

The new limits will be in operation until 2031 and the review process will start again in 2026.

European coil coating lines already use extensive abatement and water treatment technologies to ensure that the emissions to the environment are minimised and well within the defined national limits. The new (lower) limits that are defined within the 2020 STS BREF present the industry with the opportunity to further strengthen its environmental leadership in emissions control and to demonstrate the environmental advantages of coil coating over alternative coating techniques such as post-painting.

Downloads and links:

STS BREF (adopted December 2020):

Industrial Emissions Directive: