A+ a- Text version Print version
Search HELCOM:


Adopted 2 March 2004 having regard to Article 20, Paragraph 1 b) of the Helsinki Convention 1992



SCOPE: This Recommendation supplements the provisions on principles for issuing permits for industrial plants contained in Annex III, Regulation 3 of the Convention aiming especially on the reduction of (HELCOM priority) hazardous substances. This Recommendation also supplements several sector specific HELCOM Recommendations. Its specific aim is to guide the identification of effective BAT for the control of emissions and discharges of Hazardous Substances (identified by HELCOM for priority action) as well as nutrients and substances causing oxygen depletion in relevant industrial sectors. The aim is also to provide information on substitution of hazardous substances by less- or non-hazardous substances.



RECALLING Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992 (Helsinki Convention), in which the Contracting Parties undertake to prevent and eliminate pollution of the Baltic Sea Area from land-based sources by using, inter alia, Best Environmental Practice for all sources and Best Available Technology for point sources,

HAVING REGARD also to Article 3 of the Helsinki Convention, in which the Contracting Parties shall individually or jointly take all appropriate legislative, administrative or other relevant measures to prevent and abate pollution in order to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic Sea Area,

RECALLING Article 5 of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992 (Helsinki Convention), in which the Contracting Parties undertake to prevent and eliminate pollution of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea caused by harmful substances,

RECALLING FURTHER Annex II, Regulation 2, where the Contracting Parties should give particular consideration to the avoidance or substitution by less polluting activities or substances and the potential environmental benefit or penalty of substitute materials or activities,

RECALLING FURTHER the Ministerial Communiqué 1998, calling to implement the strategy on the cessation of discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous substances by the year 2020,

RECALLING FURTHER that the Ministerial Declaration 1988, of the ninth meeting of the Helsinki Commission calls for a considerable reduction of land-based pollution,

RECOGNIZING the importance of the prevention of pollution from industry by

(i)                   minimizing the hazards to human health and to the environment from toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative substances by the application of best available techniques;

(ii)                  developing industrial processes (in particular, recycling of waters) and preventing incidental effluent discharges;

(iii)                 developing waste- and stormwater treatment techniques and reuse or further utilization and/or processing of the sludge in a manner causing as little environmental hazard as possible,

(iv)                 developing processes and techniques for the collection and treatment of atmospheric emissions,

RECOMMENDS that the Contracting Parties make all efforts to minimize emissions and discharges of hazardous substances and nutrients by effective use of BAT or comparative measures and the substitution principle also taking into account the information identified for the different sectors as presented in the tables of the Annexes of this Recommendation,

RECOMMENDS that the Contracting parties take the following measures in environmental permitting of industrial installations to ensure that an integrated approach is applied in order to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole,

1.                   General principles in permitting

When setting general requirements and e.g. emission limit values for relevant pollutants the following issues should be taken into account (in addition to the provisions on principles for issuing permits for industrial plants contained in Annex III, Regulation 3 of the Convention):

1.1                 The limit values and equivalent parameters or technical measures for relevant pollutants in the permits should be based on best available techniques, without prescribing the use of any technique or specific technology, but taking into account the technical characteristics of the installation concerned, its geographical location and the local environmental conditions.

1.2                 When determining best available techniques, bearing in mind the likely costs and benefits of a measure, the information published by EU (especially under the IPPC Directive) and international organizations should among other information be taken into account as well as the sector specific HELCOM Recommendations, when available. Information on relevant sources for sectors concerning hazardous substances and concerning nutrients and substances causing oxygen depletion is presented in the Table of Annex 1. More specific information of pollution sources is to be elaborated and updated regularly for the sectors by the respective Lead Countries (following the guidance set out in the Annex) and submitted as additions to Annex 1 to this Recommendation.

1.3                 If local environmental conditions so require stricter measures than those achievable by the use of best available techniques should be required. In this context the emissions of nutrients and HELCOM priority substances should be paid special attention taking also into account the possible specific targets and quality objectives defined for the affected coastal waters and the open sea.

1.4                 Applications for permits should be made available for the public for an appropriate period of time to enable it to comment on the application before the permitting authority reaches its decision.

2.                   Requirements in hazardous substances in permitting

When issuing permits for industrial plants using and/or producing HELCOM priority and/or other hazardous substances the information provided in the Table of Annex 1 on possible measures should be considered. The table pin-points the hazardous substances, which the industrial activity should substitute by less or non-hazardous substances or which should be a target of specific pollution control measure including a probable change of processes. The table also provides the information on the possible measures to reduce or eliminate the discharges and emissions of these substances. 

3.                   Requirements in nutrients and oxygen consuming substances in permitting

When issuing permits for industrial plants the information on possible measures to reduce nutrients and substances causing oxygen depletion presented in the Table of Annex 1 should be considered, 

RECOMMENDS that the Contracting Parties report every three years to the Commission, starting from 2006.



Annex 1


Information on measures for reducing or avoiding emissions of HELCOM Priority Hazardous Substances1 or Nutrients from Industry and on emission levels associated with the use of Best Available Techniques (BAT)


This Annex provides in a Table information on specific BAT with regard to the emissions of HELCOM Priority Hazardous Substances and nutrients for relevant industrial sectors; each sector will be presented in a separate spreadsheet.


The information on BAT for each sector is structured in 5 columns as follows:


SECTOR (existing related HELCOM Recommendations)


1)  Relevant PS/

Nutrient emitted

from the sector 

2) Source(s) of emission   

3)  BAT measures   

4)  BAT associated emission level   

BAT for substitution 



The substance(s): all HELCOM Priority hazardous substances1 and all nutrients, which are emitted in relevant quantities from this sector are addressed here one by one.


The relevant source(s) of the emission within the sector (e.g. part of the process/installation) of substance listed in 1), so that different sources with different BAT can be differentiated.


The BAT measure(s) mentioned in the respective BREF for each source listed in 2)


The associated emission level or range of each BAT measure listed in 3)


Any substitute for substance under 1) for a source in 2) being BAT (according to the BREF).


1  According to the list of Substances identified as of concern by HELCOM
   (source: HELCOM Rec. 19/5)

Table presenting information on specific BAT for sectors, which use or have relevant emissions of HELCOM priority substances (PS) and/or nutrients. (At the moment the table contains information only on selected sectors [depending also on the state of finalisation of respective BREF documents]; it will be continuously updated).


Cl-Alkali Industry  (related HELCOM Recommendation 23/6)


1) Relevant PS/

Nutrient emitted from

the sector


2) Source(s) of


3) BAT measures


4) BAT associated

emission level  


BAT for substitution  



(Hg, may be CAS-Nr.)




a)  For new plants:

Hg-free technique =

membrane technique.

b)  For existing plants

with Hg-cells:

encapsulating, good

house keeping


a) No Hg emissions

b) Overall emissions into

air, product, water:

0,2 – 0,5 g

Hg per tonne Cl produced


  Glass industry (related HELCOM Recommendation 14/3)


1) Relevant PS/

Nutrient emitted

from the sector  


2) Source(s) of


  3) BAT measures  4) BAT associated

emission level  

BAT for substitution     


Melting of special

glass 2

Use of contaminated

recycled glass


In general in this sector,

BATfor dust is considered

to be the use of an

electrostatic precipitator or

bag filter operating, where

appropriate in conjunction

with a dry or semi-dry

acid gas scrubbing system


dust 3 abatement:

bag filter:

5 – 30 mg/Nm³ 4 

avoidance of materials

rich in lead to be recycled


2  The sources for heavy metals are “ …minor impurities in some raw materials, post consumer cullet, and fuels. Used in fluxes and colouring agents in the frit industry (predominately lead and cadmium). Used in some special glass formulations (e.g. lead crystal, TV funnel-glass and some coloured glasses). Further emissions of heavy metals arise from downstream activities (e.g. coating, drying, cutting, polishing, secondary processing, product forming operations). These emissions can vary greatly between the different sectors.


3  Further emission levels associated with the use of BAT are:
Metals* (group 1 {As, Co, Ni, Se, Cr VI} + 2{Sb, Pb, Cr III, Cu, Mn, V, Sn})  < 5 mg/Nm³
Metals* (group 1) {As, Co, Ni, Se, Cr VI}                                                 < 1 mg/Nm³
Organotin                                                                                            < 1 mg/Nm³


4  Discharges into water: the emission levels given below are generally considered to be appropriate to protecting the water environment and are indicative of the emission levels that would be achieved with those techniques generally considered to represent BAT…“

Cadmium                                                                                             < 0,05 mg/l
Chromium (total)                                                                                  < 0,5 mg/l
Lead                                                                                                   < 0,5 mg/l (1,0 mg/l)


Leather processing industry (related HELCOM Recommendation 16/7) 


1) Relevant PS/Nutrient emitted from the sector2) Source(s) of emission3) BAT measures4) BAT associated emission levelBAT for substitution
Cr and other heavy metals25-30% of the fresh Cr input can be substituted by recovered Cr
NPEsUse as surfactant

a) Substitution

b) Biological waste water treatment plant for effluents

b) in WWTP degradable >=98%a) NPE can in many cases be substuted by alcohol ethoxylates
Brominated and antimony-containing flame retardantSubstitutionBFR substitution with Phosphate based flame retardants


In general reduction of waterconsumption, good house-keeping, process-integrated measures, effluent treatment


Products with the lowest environmental and toxicological impact, used at the lowest level possible e.g. sodium- or potassium-dimethyl-thiocarbamate
Halogenated organic compoundsSubstitutionThey can be substituted completely in almost every case. This includes substitution for soaking, degreasing, fatiquoring, dyeing agents and special post-tanning agents. Exception: the cleaning of Merino sheep skins

Mostly the

liming process

Process-integrated measuresN(tot): 5-10 mg N/l

WASTE INCINERATION (Related HELCOM Recommendation 16/8)

1) Relevant PS/Nutrient2) Source(s) of emissions to air 3) BAT Measures4) BAT associated emission level x) BAT for substitution xx)
Total dustincineratorBag filter, ESP,1-5 
HgincineratorBag filter, ESP, Wet scrubber. Adsorption by carbon reagents0.001-0.02 (24h-average)
(Non cont samples)
Other metals tot.incineratorBag filter, ESP0.005-0.5 
TOCincineratorDesign of incinerator. Proper combustion conditions1-10 
NOxincineratorSNCR, SCR40-180 
NH3incineratorFine tuning NOx abatement system. Wet scrubber<10 
Dioxins and FuransincineratorIncinerator design, combustion conditions (temp/res.time) Carbon adsorbents. Filter0.01-0.1 


x) all figures in mg/m3 dry gas at 11% O2 , 273K and 101.3 kP, except for dioxins and furans (ng/m3)

Levels given for metals and dioxins/furans are non-continuous-sample-values. (For Hg also 24h average value is given). All other values are 24h-averages.

xx) General: Material not suited for waste incineration (which could cause emissions of e.g. Hg, Cd etc) should be sorted out as far as possible.

1) Relevant PS/Nutrient2) Source(s) of emissions of water pollutants3) BAT Measures4) BAT associated emission level x)BAT for substitution
Total suspended solidsWet cleaning of exhaust gasesPrecipitation/
or air flotation/
Ammonia stripping – reuse for SCR/SNCR
(See further in BREFs on Waste Incineration and Chemical Industry)


x) All figures in mg/lexcept for dioxins/furans (ng TEQ/l)  

General: Recirculation of waste water to minimize effluent and emissions.


METAL SURFACE TREATMENT (related HELCOM Recommendation 23/7)

 1) Relevant PS/
Nutrient emitted
from the sector
2) Source(s) of emission3) BAT measures4)      BAT associated emission level mg/lBAT for substitution
CyanideDegreasing, nickel stripping and treatment process baths (zinc, copper, cadmium, silver and gold plating).Minimization of use. May be oxidized by hypochlorite or chlorine at high pH level.
May be evaporated with water.
Closed loop technology.
0.2Substitution by different process chemistries or methods (e.g., zinc cyanide by acid or alkali cyanide free zinc: cyanide cooper by acid or pyrophosphate options, with some exceptions).
CadmiumTreatment process baths.Minimization, regeneration and reuse.  
Close the material loop. It is BAT to carry out cadmium plating in separately contained areas, with separately monitored emission level to water.
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process.
0.1-0.2   Tin can replace cadmium for giving a low and constant friction coefficient on fasteners.
NickelTreatment process baths. Minimization, regeneration and reuse. Close the material loop (barrel and decorative nickel plating)
Electrolytic selective planning using low current densities can be sued to remove unwanted contaminating metals, for example, from nickel baths with soluble Ni anodes.
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process.
0.2-2.0Substitution by different surface treatments.
Chromium (IV)Treatment process baths.Closing the material loop (hard Cr+6), reduction of air emissions by covering the solution or vat.
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process. For decorative uses, it is BAT to replace hexavalent chromium either by plating with trivalent chromium or with a chromium-free technique, such as tin-cobalt alloy, where specifications allow.
Where hexavalent chromium plating is used, it is BAT to reduce air emissions by techniques including covering the solution or vat and achieving closed loop for hexavalent chromium, and in new and rebuilt lines in certain situations, by enclosing the line. It is BAT to replace hexavalent chromium systems in phospho-chromium finishes with non-hexavalent chromium systems.
0.2Substitution of chemicals and processes.
Chromium totTreatment process baths.Reduction of drag-out, new rinsing technology, closed material loop.2.0Hard chromium can be replaced in some cases by alloyed WC-Ni(Co)Cr/Cr2O3 or by high velocity oxy-fuel spraying or plasma spraying.
CopperTreatment process baths.Minimization, regeneration and reuse. Close the material loop (etching copper from PCBs, decorative rack plating).
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process.
LeadTreatment process baths, precipitation.Minimization, regeneration and reuse.0.05-0.5 
AluminumTreatment process baths Minimization, regeneration and reuse.1-10 (SW only) 
FluorideScouring, pickling, etching, passivation, polishing, coating, etc.Precipitated out as calcium fluoride at a pH above 7. Scrubber used to treat hydrogen fluoride.50 mg/l (German limit values) 2.0 mg/Nm3 
Fluorine  10-20 
PhosphatesDegreasing, phosphate coating, heat treatment, brightening, chemical nickel plating, etc.Minimization, regeneration and reuse.
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process.
0.5-10 (as P) 
ZincTreatment process baths.Minimization, regeneration and reuse.
Switching the polarization of the electrodes in the electrolytic process.
MercuryTreatment process baths. Minimization, regeneration and reuse. 0.05   
EDTADegreasing, etching.   It is BAT to avoid the use thereof or to substitute EDTA by biodegradable alternatives or to use alternative techniques. Minimize the release by using water and material saving technique. Ensure no EDTA is released to waste water by using special treatment techniques. All EDTA is destroyed in the presence of UV radiation and hydrogen peroxide. Replacement of EDTA or NTA with derivatives of gluconic acid or by other weaker or biodegradable agents. There are many alternatives to substitute EDTA, including so called direct plating methods (for example tartrate-complex in cooper solution).
HC Total Solvent degreasing.Physical methods to remove excessive oil (e.g., centrifuge or air knife). Alternatively, for large, quality-critical and/or high-value parts, hand wiping can be used.1-5 
AcidsE.g., anodizing (sulphuric acid), electrolytic and chemical polishing processes for aluminum (phosphoric, sulphuric acids, and sometimes nitric acid), pickling (hydrochloric or sulphuric acids, or mixes), etching solutions. Electrolytes from process baths.Regeneration, pH  adjustment, extending the life of the acid or extend the life of electrolytic pickling acids by using the electrolysis to remove by-metals and oxidize some organic compounds. Neutralization prior to discharge to sewer. Substitution of processes.
AlkalisAlkaline etching, degreasing, cleaning, treatment baths.pH  adjustment, minimization of drag-out, new rinsing systems. Substituting processes.
COD Waste waster treatment.     100-500 (surface water)   
VOX Waste water. 0.1*-0.5 *HR 
SludgeWastewater treatment, filter pressing, electroplating.Reduction of volume by filter press, belt press or centrifuge. Further it may be dried and stabilized.  
NOxPickling, brightening, passivation, nitric acid processes.Reduction of NOx could be achieved by selective reduction using NH2-X compounds injected into the gas stream. The most common reducing agent is ammonia. Both non-catalytic (SNCR) and catalytic (SCR) techniques exist.70 mg/Nm3 
AOXFormed in effluent treatment when hypochlorite or chlorine are used as the oxidizing agents. 1 mg/l (German limit value) 
AmmoniaAmmonia etching, aluminum brighteningRecovery by steam stripping, oxidation to nitrogen and water with sodium hypochlorite, biological oxidation, wet scrubber. Tanks for ammonia-containing electrolytes may be equipped with fume extraction hoods to capture ammonia escaping from the plating electrolyte.  
Wastewater Minimization of flows and materials to be treated, testing, identification and separation of problematic flows, special monitoring and discharge. Minimization of water use though evaporation and/or closed loop system, by controlling drag-in and drag-out of process solutions, as well as rinsing stages. Filtration, reverse osmosis, chemical treatment, oil separation, sedimentation, ion exchange.  
SurfactantsDegreasing, processes of wetting surfaces and assisting other processes such as etching, metal depositionReduction of chemicals in aqueous degreasing systems.  
Suspended solidsWaste water treatment. 5-30 (SW) 
AgTreatment process/electroplating.    0.1-0.5 (0.2 HR)