The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive is the first legislation on the control of industrial pollution to hit the food sector. It had been excluded from earlier regimes.
Under the legislation food-processors will now have to obtain permits to operate from the Environmental Agency.
To be granted the permits they will have to meet basic standards in operational areas that include emissions, noise, vibration, energy efficiency, waste minimisation and accident prevention.
The requirements for the food industry are expected to be in place by the end of 2007.
Meat processors are the first food sector group that will have to comply and they have until August 31 to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency
Vegetable processors with a capacity of more than 300 tonnes a day and milk processors with more than 200 tonnes a day must comply from March 31, 2005. Consultant Henry Lang, of Bureau Veritas Consulting, said significant costs would be involved in bringing older sites up to standard and a minimum of £30,000 would be needed for an average company. In addition, supermarkets would use the directive to judge suppliers’ corporate social responsibility targets, he warned.