European Parliament, Council / 29.04.2004 / 20.05.2004
European Union Regulation, with binding legal force throughout every EU Member State, form its date of effect
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are not easily biodegradable in the environment. T, they bioaccumulate through the food chain and pose a risk to human health and the environment. These substances are transported far from their sources, beyond national boundaries (transboundary pollution), even in areas where they have never been produced or used.
Due to POPs transboundary migration international action is needed in order to control them. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Protocol on POPs to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution are international regulations already in force not only in the European Union, but in countries all over the world.
The EU POPs Regulation reinforces and supports the provisions of the mentioned documents by stricter measures meant to prohibit or restrict the production, placing on the market or use of substances subject to the Stockholm Convention and/or the Long -Range pollution Protocol, to limit exemptions from the above measures and to improve the management of wastes containing or contaminated by such substances. The Protocol presents and provides measures for the POPs intentionally produced POPs, unintentionally produced POPs, (e.g. resulted as pollutants in combustion processes, like dioxins) and safe handling of stockpiles.
In August 2010, the EU Regulation has been amended by adding more substances to its annexes (see point 7.1) due to the revision of the Stockholm Convention in 2009. The new dangerous chemicals added to the POPs Regulation were already prohibited or restricted in the EU but now certain restrictions go even further in order to comply with the new international agreements.
The Anexes of the Regulation have been amended (see point 7.2)
According to Article 6.2 each Member State has to elaborate an action plan for the implementation of the Regulation with measures to identify, characterize, minimise with a view to eliminating the total releases of POPs.
The action plan shall include measures to promote the development and where appropriate, shall require the use of substitute or modified materials, products and processes to prevent the formation and release of the substances subject to release reduction provisions (listed in Annex III).
Article 10 states that the Commission and the Member States shall facilitate and undertake the exchange of information relevant to the reduction, minimisation or elimination, of the production, use and release of POPs , including information on alternatives to those substances,’ specifying the risks and the economic and social costs related to such alternatives’.
By clearly prohibiting the most hazardous POPs and restricting or recommending the reduction of others the Protocol triggers the search for and use of safer alternatives as chemical or technological substitutes.
It encourages also Member States to support and even request substitution, if feasible.
Not least important, the Regulation promotes the exchange of information, including that on substitution, not only inside the EU but also with third countries.
As regards substitution, enterprises have to check the prohibited substances mentioned in the directive, as transposed in their national legislation and to avoid producing, placing them on the market or using them whether on their own, in preparations (mixtures) or as part of articles. They should search for safer chemical or technological alternatives to replace such substances.
Last update: 18.12.2011