On 25 April 2023, the EPA promulgated the amendment to the Volatile Organic Compound Air Pollution Controls and Emission Standards for the Polyurethane Coating Industry (聚氨基甲酸酯塗布業揮發性有機物空氣污染管制及排放標準), (hereinafter referred to as the "Standards"). The amendment added emission pipeline volatile organic compound (VOC) standards, emission reduction rates, and installation requirements for gas collection facilities, and granted existing operators a two-year grace period to make improvements.
VOCs are precursors to ozone and fine particulate matter, as well as one of the main causes of odor pollution. Some VOCs are also hazardous air pollutants that can have long-term health effects on humans. To encourage the polyurethane coating industry to adopt water-based processes and strengthen overall VOC control, relevant revisions have been made in this amendment. It is estimated that the improvements following the promulgation will reduce annual VOC emissions by 775 metric tons, an equivalent of 90% of the average VOC emissions of an oil refinery (821 metric tons).
The amendment to the Standards focuses on four key points: promoting source reduction, effective exhaust gas collection, stricter emission standards, and enhanced odor control. The details are as follows:
1. Promoting source reduction: Operators are encouraged to develop water-based processes, and polyurethane coating processes are regulated. However, operators using water-based or solvent-free processes (and not using dimethylformamide) can be excluded from the regulation if they submit supporting documents that are approved by local competent authorities.
2. Effective exhaust gas collection: Installation specifications for gas collection equipment were added, requiring the installation of enclosed gas collection equipment and enclosing hoods to enhance the collection of exhaust gases and channel the gases to pollution-control equipment for treatment to reduce the emission of pollutants.
3. Strengthening emission standards: Emission standards for VOCs from exhaust pipes and the treatment efficiency of pollution control equipment were added, aiming to improve end-of-pipe treatment and strengthen the control of VOCs.
4. Strengthening Odor Control: Control measures were enhanced to reduce odor complaints from nearby residents; the control limits for odor-causing pollutant emissions from exhaust pipes were added; and regulation was enhanced for newly established businesses.
Due to the multitude and complexity of air pollution sources, the EPA has been actively promoting air pollution prevention programs in recent years (from 2020 to 2023). Through multiple measures, efforts to improve air quality have shown positive results, with the annual average concentration of PM2.5 gradually decreasing nationwide, meeting the targets. In response to the next control phase, which will focus on controlling O3 (ozone), this amendment aims to strengthen the reduction of ozone precursors, particularly VOCs, to continue improving air quality.
The EPA emphasizes that this amendment not only specifies the regulated targets and directly exempts water-based and solvent-free processes from the regulation, but also provides appropriate grace period for operators to make improvements in the existing processes so as to respond to stricter gas collection equipment and emission standards. The aim is to strengthen the control of VOCs and achieve a balance and mutually beneficial situation between the environment and the development of the industry.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, April 2023
- Ministry of Environment