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POP Regulation - Persistent Organic Pollutants

Statutory regime on persistent organic pollutants

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs for short) can be harmful to humans and the environment. The Stockhom Convention obliges states worldwide to ban certain POPs or to prohibit or restrict their production, use, import and export.

Erlenmeyer flask © Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX

The Stockholm Convention has the explicit objective of eliminating certain POPs. Within the EU, the POP Regulation implements this uniformly for all EU Member States.

Persistent organic pollutants have attracted negative attention worldwide in recent decades.

POPs

  • remain in the environment for a long time,
  • accumulate through the food chain,
  • are transported long distances from their place of origin and
  • pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Agreements at the international level - Stockholm Convention and CLRTAP

There are two international agreements containing regulations in relation to POPs:

  • the POPs Protocol to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP),
  • the Stockholm Convention.

Statutory regime at European level - Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 (POP Regulation)

At European level, the two aforementioned international agreements are implemented into European law by "Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117/EEC" (the POP Regulation).

Due to the legal form of a "regulation", the provisions it contains are applicable in the Member States immediately without the need for implementation. In this way, it is ensured that the obligations and measures entered into within the framework of the international conventions are regulated and implemented uniformly across the EU.

Regulatory areas of the POP Regulation

The provisions of the POP Regulation are applicable to substances contained in Annexes I and II. Annex I contains the list of prohibited substances, and Annex II contains the list of substances that are subject to restrictions.

The POP Regulation prohibits the production, placing on the market and use of substances listed in Annex I. These prohibitions also encompass preparations or the constituents of articles containing such substances.

Warehouse stock that correspond to or contain substances listed in Annex I or II are also regulated.

  • Provided no specific use is authorised for them, they are dealt with as waste.
    The persistent organic pollutants they contain must be destroyed or irreversibly transformed. The recycling, recovery, reclamation or reuse of corresponding substances is prohibited. In the area of waste management, the POP Regulation goes beyond the requirements of the international agreements.
  • Where use is permitted as an exception, the owner must inform the competent authority of his EU Member State of the quality and quantity of stocks over 50 kg per year.

Competent Authority in Germany

The Federal Office for Chemicals (BfC), which is based at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), fulfils the duties of the "competent authority" within the framework of the POP Regulation and is available as a point of contact in relation to the POP Regulation. If you have stockpiles of a POP of more than 50 kg, the use of which is permitted as an exception, you must inform the BfC of the quality and quantity of the stocks every year. This can be done formless. It is also recommended to specify the total quantity that you are producing or placing on the market. This facilitates reporting to the EU on the estimated total POPs to which the Member States are committed every three years.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) also works intensively within the framework of the POP Regulation and provides information on its website.

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