Soil is a natural resource that performs many important functions for society, such as producing food and protecting biodiversity. It is also essential for water protection and carbon storage. The sustainable use of soil is important for European chemical sites.
Towards a European policy on soil protection
The increasing degradation of European soils has put their protection on the EU agenda.
As part of the EU’s 6th Environmental Action Programme, the European Commission adopted a European Thematic Strategy for the protection and sustainable use of soil in 2006. The Parliament voted in favour of a Soil Framework Directive (SFD) in 2007, but Member States have not reached political agreement on the legislative proposal. However, many existing policies – for example on water, waste and industrial emissions – contribute to soil protection.
Most of the European chemical industry’s emissions to soil are currently regulated by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
Soil protection starts with prevention
For the European chemical industry, soil protection starts with prevention. Over the past years, the industry has continuously improved its processes and practices to prevent soil contamination. This is done for example by using management systems and equipment designed to minimise the risk of spills and leaks and by following strict control procedures.
Regarding EU policies, Cefic’s view is that soil issues should be guided by the subsidiarity and proportionality principles. A risk-based approach should be followed for the identification and remediation of contaminated soils.