The Council today formally adopted a regulation to reduce limit values for the presence of persistent organic pollutants in waste.
Persistent organic pollutants are particularly harmful substances. Although these chemicals may no longer be 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. In order to reach a circular economy, where waste will be increasingly used as a secondary raw material, establishing new limits to the presence of persistent organic pollutants in waste is essential.
This is an important step to protect our citizens and the environment. Many of these substances have brought us benefits in the past, but we were not paying enough attention to how harmful can they be. I am glad the EU leads by example and decided to tighten their limits in the recycling phase.
Anna Hubáčková, Czech minister of environment
The regulation revises the annexes to the persistent organic pollutant regulation, introducing new chemicals on the list of these substances and restricting their presence in waste by strengthening the concentration limit values of certain substances. The new concentration limit values will ensure a higher protection of human health and the environment.
The adoption of the regulation follows a provisional political agreement reached with the European Parliament on 21 June 2022.
Background and next steps
The regulation aims to bring the EU’s legislation in line with its international commitments, particularly under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The new restrictions are consistent with the European Green Deal’s ambitions to achieve toxic-free material cycles and with the new Circular Economy Action Plan.
To achieve this, the new rules will add some substances to annex IV of the POPs regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants) and update the concentration limit values for some substances in annexes IV and V of that regulation.
The Regulation concerns mainly the following substances:
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts and related compounds – found in waterproof textiles and fire-fighting foams
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – flame retardants found in plastics and textiles used in electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles and furniture;
- Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) – flame retardant found in some plastic and textile waste, particularly in polystyrene insulation from demolition of buildings;
- Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) – flame retardants found in some rubber and plastic waste, such as rubber conveyor belts, hoses, cables and seals;
- Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) – these substances are not produced or added to materials intentionally but are present as impurities in certain ashes and in other industrial waste;
- Dioxin-like PCBs – similar to dioxins, these PCBs can be present as impurities in some ashes and industrial oils. Limits for these specific PCBs are proposed, together with those for dioxins;
- Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) and its salts and related compounds – found in textiles, non-stick cookware and fire-fighting foams. The co-legislators agreed to add this substance to the Regulation following a decision by the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in June 2021 to restrict its production and use.
The regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. This regulation shall apply as of six months after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
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