Pollutants concerned

The different waste treatment processes in use can release significant amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere. The pollutants concerned therefore depend on the treatment process in question.

Topic area Pollutants Treatment processes
Acidification, eutrophication, photochemical pollution Sulphur dioxide (SO2) Incineration
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) Incineration
Ammonia (NH3) Incineration, biological treatment
Non methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) Incineration, storage
Carbon monoxide (CO) Incineration
Enhanced of the greenhouse effect Methane (CH4) Incineration, storage, biological treatment, water treatment
Carbon dioxide (CO2) Incineration
Nitrous oxide (N2O) Incineration, storage, biological treatment, water treatment
Contamination by heavy metals (HM) Arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chrome (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), selenium (Se), zinc (Zn) Incineration
Contamination by persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Dioxins/furans (PCDD/F), indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene (IndPy), benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), benzo(b)fluoranthene (BbF), enzo(k)fluoranthene (BkF),
benzo(g,h,i)perylene (BghiPe),
benzo(a,h)anthracene (BahA),
fluoranthene (FluorA), benzo(a)anthracene (BaA), Polychlorobiphenyls (PCB), Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)

Suspended particles TSP, PM10, PM2.5, PM1.0 Incineration


Main sources of emissions

All kinds of solid wastes are generated by households, local government bodies and businesses (commerce, industry, civil engineering, agricultural facilities, etc.). Some of the wastes produced by local government and businesses are treated in household waste disposal facilities as "household and similar waste" (HSW or DMA in French). The quantity of waste generated in France in 2012 amounted to 345 Mt and the share of the different sectors generating this total is presented in the figure below (source ADEME, Déchets – chiffres-clés, 2016).

Dechets ADEME Chiffres cles2016

Solid wastes (HSW and other waste) are disposed of by different treatment processes as follows:

  • storage in facilities for non-hazardous or hazardous wastes,
  • incineration (non hazardous household and industrial wastes, hazardous industrial wastes, medical wastes, sewage treatment sludge, etc.) and burning (green wastes, agricultural plastic films),
  • organic recycling (composting, methane production),
  • materials recycling.

The graph below (source: ADEME, Déchets – chiffres-clés, 2016) shows the quantities of household and similar waste treated by the different processes in 2014, based on data collected from household waste treatment plants.

Dechets ITOM2014 

Household and industrial waste water is treated by collective or individual treatment facilities or, marginally, released without treatment. Sewage sludge is treated in solid waste treatment facilities (storage, incineration, methane production, composting).



The proportions of HSW treated by different processes have changed since 1990. The share of landfill disposal dropped from 65% in 1990 to 34% in 2014. The share treated by incineration has remained fairly stable during the period, although incineration without energy recovery is gradually declining in favour of incineration with energy recovery. Biological treatment, especially composting, has increased steadily, standing at 15% in 2014 (excluding refusals to sort waste).

Dechets EvolutionDMA16


The full list of sources considered for the « Manufacturing industry, waste treatment and construction » sector is available on this website, on the SECTEN page, section « List of sectors and sub-sectors by SECTEN category », by uploading the associated file.

Emission trends data for the « Manufacturing industry, waste treatment and construction » sector by sub-sectors are available and downloadable on this website, on the SECTEN inventory page, section « Sub-sector contribution by air pollutant and greenhouse gas ».

The SECTEN report, available free of charge only in online reading on this website for CITEPA members, provides a sector analysis for each pollutant et greenhouse gas to understand the data and the factors influencing the trends observed, inclunding regulatory framework (read the SECTEN report online via your login and password).



The pollutants and greenhouse gases inventories made by CITEPA are produced in an objective and impartial manner.

All the methods used to produce those pollutants and greenhouse gases inventories are explained and detailed in the OMINEA report, made by CITEPA. A database including the activity data and the emission factors applied is also available on this website.

These methods, used for the estimation of both pollutants and greenhouse gases, are internationally accepted methods. Concerning the pollutants, the methods applied are consistent with the EMEP methodology, and concerning the greenhouse gases, with the GIEC methodology.

CITEPA is annually audited by international experts (UNFCCC and UNECE) in order to control these methods are properly applied.


Technological issues

Preventing waste production at source is set out as a priority in the French Environment Code. The National Environmental Policy consultations (Grenelle de l'Environnement) confirmed this policy and proposed an increase in materials and organic recycling (including composting and methane production). Measures for waste prevention targeting consumers, businesses and local authorities, together with measures to direct some of these wastes to materials recycling, have helped to reduce the quantities going to non-hazardous landfill and therefore the CH4 emissions that result.

Reducing pollutant emissions into the atmosphere from the waste sector also means that the reduction techniques applied have to comply with national, EU and international regulations.

Emissions from waste incineration, for example, have dropped sharply since the introduction of reduction technology to comply with the limit values laid down by the Ministerial Orders of 20 September 2002 on the incineration of hazardous and non hazardous wastes. This is the case in particular for PCDD-F emissions released by incinerating household, industrial and medical wastes and sewage sludge, which dropped by 97% overall from 1990 to 2014.

The Ministerial Order of 19 January 2006 amending the previous Ministerial Order of 9 September 1997 (amended) on the storage of household and similar wastes requires all non hazardous waste storage facilities to be equipped with a system for biogas capture and recovery. Incentives have been introduced (e.g. via buyback prices for electricity produced from biogas) to boost biogas recovery. With these systems, some of the CH4 released by decomposing wastes is recovered for combustion purposes and thus emitted into the atmosphere in the form of CO2.

Open burning of wastes (cables and wires, household garden wastes, vehicles) are taken into account in the national inventory. Cable and wire burning significantly contribute to national PCDD-F emissions but a great amount of uncertainty surrounds their estimation (little is known about the quantities burned).