ZERIA 3 (Zero Emissions Research in Application)

Elaboration of the principles for zero emission enterprises. The results show that this approach can be realistic and economically advantageous in many cases.

Short Description




Emissions Research in Austria) and ZERIA 2 (Zero Emissions Research in Austria 2) which had been funded as departmental research by the Ministry for Science and Traffic (later the Ministry for Traffic, Innovation and Technology), the Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family and the WIFI respectively.

ZERIA 3 was funded by the Program "Factory of Tomorrow", which is part of a research and technology Program on Technologies for Sustainable Development called "Impulsprogramm Nachhaltig Wirtschaften". It contained three main areas of research, which were

  • strategies for the implementation of zero emissions production processes
  • methods to support the implementation
  • case Studies in different sectors

The project partners were on one hand academic research facilities, like Graz University of Technology and JOANNEUM RESEARCH and on the other hand consulting companies and technology providers, like Atrotech GmbH (Otto Reiter, CEO), Rotreat Abwasserreinigung GmbH & CO KG (Ing. Michael Schöffel, CEO) and STENUM GmbH (Dr. Johannes Fresner, CEO). Case studies were made at Joh. Pengg AG (Dipl. Ing. Torsten Kriechbaum, Environmental Officer), Eybl International AG (Martina Gärtner, Environmental Officer) and Sebring Auspuffanlagen GmbH.

The starting point were assumptions and both operating experiences and expert knowledge. All of them were either proved, expanded or disproved. The Zero Emissions Approach uses mainly similar methods as process integrated environmental protection action plans and technologies but chooses a completely different way to achieve its results. Were process integrated methods try to optimise existing processes and reduce existing emissions prospectively, the "Zero Emissions Enterprise - ZEE" is the result of backward oriented analysis. The ideal ZEE is defined as a company that produces no waste at all and interim solutions are developed that are technically feasible and economically reasonable. So actions are avoided that lead to a dead end and technologies are eliminated that lead to no further resource efficiency and reduction of emissions.

The analysis of Case Studies and new literature lead to the following perceptions:

  • "Zero Emissions" is a completely new approach to a sustainable and resource
    efficient economic development
    It is the authors conviction, developed in own Case Studies and the analysis of scientific literature, that the Zero Emissions Approach means a further development of the process integrated environmental protection approach that overtakes eco efficiency and leads far beyond it. The existing, well developed and documented methods of process integrated environmental protection actions are a very good staring point. Experiences and preliminary work may be used as source.
  • A media oriented access is feasible and reasonable
    The Zero Emissions Approach must not start as an overall project. A media oriented approach like
    • No Waste Water
    • No Solid Waste
    • No Climate Change Emissions
    is feasible. Companies can implement these independent from each other.
  • Discontinuities in economic calculations open new economic perspectives
    The main economic benefit of process integrated environmental protections actions are generated due to more efficiency in the use of raw materials and the reduction of disposal costs. The savings are proportional to the input material and are subject to the conditions of the law of diminishing marginal utility. The Zero Emissions Approach leads to further savings at the fixed costs side of calculations if it is possible to avoid or even shut down expensive production processes. This is mainly feasible at waste water treatment plants and channel interfaces but also at the disposal of solid waste.
  • Zero Emissions approaches have to go beyond company's borders
    All emissions that are produced in a Zero Emissions Enterprise have to be transformed into valuable goods, like secondary raw materials, for other production processes. It is hardly possible to convert all emissions of a company into raw materials for its own production but it may be feasible to create secondary raw materials for other companies in maybe other branches. Just by cooperating with other companies and adjusting the necessary quality and quantity it is possible to reduce all emissions down to zero.

This project report summarizes the necessary knowledge and conveys important skills to support interested companies in the implementation of Zero Emissions.

Project Partners

Project management

Prof. Hans Schnitzer
Technische Universität Graz
Institut für Ressourcenschonende und Nachhaltige Systeme

Project or cooperation partner

  • DI Mickael Planasch, DI Christian Zwatz
    TU Graz, Inst. f. Ressourcenschonende u. Nachhaltige Systeme
  • DI Christoph Brunner, DI Karin Taferner, DI Bettina Slawitsch
    Joanneum Research, Inst. f. Nachhaltige Techniken u. Systeme
  • Prof. DSc Ferenc Friedler
    Universität Veszprém Department of Computer Science
  • Otto Reiter
    Atrotech GmbH
  • Martina Gärtner
    Eybl International AG
  • DI Torsten Kriechbaum
    Joh. Pengg AG
  • Ing. Michael Schöffel, Robert Gampmayer
    Rotreat Abwasserreinigung GmbH & CO KG

Contact Address

Technische Universität Graz
Institut für Ressourcenschonende und Nachhaltige Systeme
Prof. Hans Schnitzer
Inffeldgasse 21b, A-8010 Graz
Tel.: ++43 (316) 873 - 7467
Fax: ++43 (316) 873 - 7963
E-Mail: hans.schnitzer@tugraz.at