The Environment

Italian Legislative Decree n. 152 of 3 April 2006 is better known as the Consolidated Environmental Protection Act (or “Environmental Code”. It came into force on 29 April of the same year, delivering the main national regulations governing environmental protection.

The primary aim of this Decree is to enhance the quality of human life, this is achieved by safeguarding and improving the state of the environment and by using natural resources in a prudent and rational manner.

Activities

Companies of all kinds are obliged to implement a process of constant monitoring and regulatory compliance from an environmental point of view, an area that requires particular attention given the frequent changes to national and supranational legislation.

In Italy, Legislative Decree 121/2011 introduced the concept of “environmental crime” in the context of Legislative Decree 231/2001, which regards company liability, i.e., the criminal and administrative liability of entities and companies.

The regulatory compliance process within companies includes the task of verifying that internal procedures are consistent with the goal of managing and limiting the risks regarding non-conformity with environmental protection requirements.

Companies therefore require support in order to make informed choices in full awareness of this issue, which is one of the foremost risks to which they are exposed.

Waste management and the rehabilitation of polluted sites is regulated by the fourth part of the Consolidated Environmental Protection Act, which also implements a number of EU directives on waste, hazardous waste, used oils, spent batteries, packaging waste, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), landfill sites, incinerators, electrical and electronic waste, waste from ports, end-of-life vehicles, medical waste and waste containing asbestos. The correct management of these substances ensures a high degree of environmental protection, implementing effective controls that take the specific nature of certain types of special waste into due account.

Special waste must be disposed of and/or recovered without endangering human health, without posing a risk to groundwater or soil, without causing problems such as excessive odours and noise, and without spoiling the landscape in any way.

It is essential that companies receive the necessary support in the process of complying with these regulations, particularly for complex procedures, such as the construction of waste disposal and treatment plants.

The manufacturing sector, and companies involved in production of all kinds, carry out activities that can lead to waste products being discharged into water, emissions into the atmosphere, waste, noise in outdoor environments, soil and air pollution and possible exposure to electromagnetic fields.

In order to limit the consequences of these important issues, including the effects on neighbouring areas, it is necessary to identify sources of any emissions and determine the level of pollution created. It is therefore of fundamental importance to carry out environmental surveys in order to classify the various environmental matrices from a chemical and physical perspective and therefore to monitor the levels of pollution created on a continuous basis.

Air quality is a fundamental factor and clean air is a requirement for the health and safety of workers. One of the main causes of air pollution is production activities which are not properly monitored. The emission of a given substance into the air must be authorised and periodically monitored in order to ensure that the legal limits and the limits imposed by the various authorisations are maintained.

An extremely wide variety of pollutants can be released as a result of production processes, these can be found both outside, but above all inside the workplace. This is why companies must be supported in the constant monitoring of the environment by means of assessments and surveys carried out in the workplace as well as testing the workers in order to verify compliance with legal limits for substances in the air.

Water is the most important resource on earth. Italian Law divides water into four types:

  • Water intended for human consumption: d.lgs.31/01, which sets the chemical and physical requirements for water intended for human consumption:
  • Wastewater: legislative decree 152/06 part III, which sets limits for the discharge of wastewater into the sewerage system, into surface waters and into the soil;
  • Groundwater: Legislative Decree 152/06 Title V, sets threshold limits for concentrations in groundwater;
  • Surface water: Legislative Decree 152/06 Part III sets quality objectives for surface water

The authorisation which a plant or production unit must receive in order to carry out its operations under specific conditions is called the “Integrated Environmental Authorisation” (“AIA”), this establishes the requirements for compliance with the applicable legislation.

A company is covered where the “AIA” procedure is concerned when its characteristics meet the requirements set out in Annex VIII (plants under regional jurisdiction) and Annex XII (plants under state jurisdiction) of Legislative Decree 152/06.

There are two types of Integrated Environmental Authorisation: regional and national.

Through this authorisation, the company guarantees the progressive adoption of the best available techniques in the design, management, maintenance and decommissioning of industrial processes and products in order to reduce, as far as possible, the environmental impacts resulting from industrial operations.