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S&Ds successfully advocate for the ‘polluter pays principle’ in treating toxic substances in wastewater


05 Oct 2023


Global Europe

Today, the European Parliament voted in favour of revising the outdated Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, which dates back to 1991.

Increasing pollution caused by rainwater, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and micro-pollutants, currently untreated, poses significant threats to human and animal health, as well as to our environment. Hence, the S&D Group has strived to significantly improve our wastewater facilities.

A striking 92% of toxic pollutants in wastewater originate from the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors. The most significant innovation in the approved revision will involve treating harmful substances found in their products.

Contrary to the positions of the Liberals and Conservatives, the S&D Group has successfully advocated for the full implementation of the ‘polluter pays principle’ outlined in the Commission’s proposal.

Marek Paweł Balt, S&D negotiator on the revision of the Wastewater Treatment Directive, said:

“With 92% of toxic pollutants in wastewater coming from the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, it was imperative to adapt our treatment plants to address this growing health and environmental threat. Now, a fourth level treatment will be applied across all EU wastewater facilities, as water knows no borders. 

“Contrary to the positions of the Liberals and Conservatives, we fought for the application of the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’, and we emerged victorious, as the majority of the treatment costs will be borne by the polluting industries themselves, and not by taxpayers. 

“We have also made water treatment facilities more energy-efficient in line with the Green Deal.

“This marks the beginning of an ambitious mandate as we enter negotiations with the European Commission and the Council. We urge member states to rise to the challenges ahead.”


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