In 2019, the EU issued Regulation 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants. The Regulation aims to protect the environment and human health from POPs by prohibiting, phasing out, or restricting the manufacture, placing on the market, and use of substances in line with:
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; and
- Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
It also aims to minimise and ultimately prevent releases of POPs and manage waste containing or contaminated by them. The requirements of the Basel Convention are also accommodated.
The Regulation has three annexes that are particularly relevant to this study:
- Annex I lists the substances prohibited by the Regulation from being manufactured, placed on the market or used. It also lists the concentration limits for unintentional trace contaminants (UTCs);
- Annex IV lists lower POP concentration limits (LPCLs) for contaminated waste containing POP substances, below which the contaminated waste may be disposed of under the relevant EU legislation; and
- Annex V lists maximum POP concentration limits (MPCLs) for contaminated waste containing POP substances, below which Member State competent authority may exceptionally permit the contaminated waste be dealt with.
The articles of the Regulation that are particularly relevant to the study are:
- Article 3 – controls and prohibits the manufacturing, marketing and use of POP substances listed in Annex I;
- Article 4 – exemptions from article 3, particularly unintentional trace contaminants (UTCs) in substances, mixtures and articles, which must have contamination levels lower than the limits listed in Annex I; and
- Article 7 – manages waste containing POP substances. The default position is that contaminated waste is destroyed or irreversibly transformed. If the waste is contaminated to a level beneath the LPCL in Annex IV other appropriate disposal methods may be used. Waste material contaminated to levels below the LPCL may also be recycled to retrieve the non-POP substances. Waste contaminated to levels beneath the MCPL in Annex V may exceptionally be disposed of using appropriate methods with the agreement of the member State competent authority.
Whenever there are amendments to the Stockholm Convention, the Regulation needs to be reviewed, particularly when new substances are added. The three limit values, those for UTCs, plus LPCLs and MPCLs, are also reviewed for any substance whenever new evidence indicates that the values listed in Annexes IV and V may no longer be appropriate.
Furthermore, Regulation EC 850/2004 was recently repealed by EU 2019/1021. EC 850/2004 was updated by Regulation EU 2019/636, but Annexes IV and V of EU 2019/1021 were not updated to reflect EU 2019/636. Some changes relating to Pentachlorophenol (PCP) need to be incorporated into EU 2019/1021.