Brussels, 21 June 2022
The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement last night on the Commission proposal to introduce stricter limits for some of the most harmful chemicals in waste – Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs show toxic properties and remain in the environment for a very long time, accumulate in food chains and can harm human health and nature. Although POPs are generally no longer used in new products, they can still be found in waste coming from some consumer products such as waterproof textiles, furniture, plastics and electronic equipment. The agreement paves the way to setting stringent limits for these chemicals in waste, preventing them from re-entering the economy through recycled materials.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
Last night the EU took a decisive step towards protecting our health and environment from persistent organic pollutants chemicals in waste. We are delivering on our promise to eradicate the most harmful chemicals from our daily lives. Ambitious limits for these substances are also needed to foster high-quality, toxic-free secondary materials that can be safely used in a growing circular economy.
Existing limits have been tightened for five substances and new limits have been agreed for four new substances that can be found for example in waterproof textiles and fire-fighting foams, in treated wood and others. An agreement was reached to include also a new substance – Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), which was listed less than 2 weeks ago as a POP substance in the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention.
This swift action sends an extremely powerful message about the diligence and commitment of the EU to deal with POPs in waste, and to lead the way toward a toxic-free environment internationally. The proposal is an important step in achieving a more circular economy as announced under the Circular Economy Action Plan. It contributes to the European Green Deal‘s Zero Pollution Action Plan and to the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability with its associated action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often dubbed ‘forever chemicals’. More information is in the news item.
Source – EU Commission
MEPs clinch deal with member states to reduce harmful chemicals in waste
In order to create a toxic free environment and a truly circular economy, lawmakers agreed to stricter limits on persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Last night, Parliament and Council negotiators reached a provisional political agreement on new rules for persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and the management of waste containing them.
While POPs are generally no longer used in new products, they can still be found in waste and hence pose a threat to the environment and to human health all over the globe. In order to protect the circular lifespan of products, materials containing too high levels of POPs must be destroyed or incinerated and cannot be recycled.
Parliament’s objective was to secure a better alignment between the POPs Regulation and the EU Green Deal’s goals – especially the ambition for a toxic free environment and a truly circular economy.
Stricter limits for POPs
– PBDE (a group of brominated flame retardants)
The limit value will be reduced to 200mg/kg, 5 years after the entry into force, provided that the limit value to place this substance on the market is not higher. Until then the limit is set at 500mg/kg at the entry into force of the regulation and 350 mg/kg, 3 years after the entry into force.
– Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
The maximum limit value was set at 1 mg/kg for PFOA and its salts and at 40 mg/kg for PFOA-related compounds. Perfluorooctanoic acid is found for example in waterproof textiles and fire-fighting foams.
– Dioxins and furans (PCDDs/PCDFs and dl-PCBs)
The limit for dioxins and furans is set at 5 μg/kg. The value limits for these substances in fly ashes from biomass units for heat and power production will apply one year after the entry into force of the regulation with a transitional value of set at 10 μg/kg in the meantime. For domestic ashes and soot from the new limit will apply from 1 January 2025. This time will be used by Member States to gather information necessary to design suitable policies for the collection and treatment of these ashes and soot and to support the future review of limit values.
The co-legislators also added a limit for the synthetic chemical compound perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) following its listing by the Stockholm Convention COP-10 9 June 2022. Stricter limits for HBCDD and SCCP were also added.
– Waste classification
As requested by Parliament, the Commission will also, within three years after entry into force of this Regulation, assess whether it is necessary to amend EU waste legislation in order to ensure that waste containing any POPs exceeding the limits is classified as hazardous and put forward a legislative proposal thereof.
After the agreement, the rapporteur, Martin Hojsík (Renew, SK), said:
Our goal is to protect our health, the environment and to ensure the creation of a truly circular economy, which means an economy free from toxic chemicals. While the outcome of our negotiations is a compromise, it is a step in the right direction. We have showed commitment to the implementation of the Stockholm Convention which is clear: the only way to deal with the POPs – one of the most dangerous chemicals we know – is to work towards their elimination.
The provisional agreement is expected to be put for a final vote in Parliament after the summer after which it needs to be formally adopted by the Council and published in the EU Official Journal.
The Commission presented its proposal to review the Annexes IV and V of the 2019 regulation on POPs on the 28th of October 2021 to ensure their alignment with the international obligations, particularly the Stockholm Convention whose main goal is “to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants”.
Source – EU Parliament