Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from organic chemicals which are so stable that they remain in the environment for many years. These chemicals become widely distributed geographically and are also prone to accumulate in living organisms. The text of the Convention was adopted on 23 May 2001 and entered in to force on 17 May 2004.
The Convention initially identified 12 POPs (the so-called "dirty dozen") and requires Parties to take specific measures to control their manufacture, use, release and disposal. It also established a mechanism for identifying new potential POPs, their scientific evaluation and establishing what measures are needed to protect human health and the environment. In 2009 nine substances were added to the list of POPs, in 2011 another one (endosulfan) bringing the total to 22 'POPs'.
More information about The Stockholm Convention on POPs on chm.pops.int
Challenges and industry support
The Convention requires the use of Best Available Techniques and Best Environment Practices (BAT/BEP) in order to minimise the emissions of unintentional POPs.
The Stockholm Convention on POPs is a key treaty with far-reaching implications, which are being discussed in a number of international fora. The challenge for the chemical industry is to ensure that a science- and risk-based approach is the basis for the nomination and assessment of candidate chemicals that may in future be considered as POPs.
Euro Chlor is closely monitoring developments with regard to this general challenge and is specifically following the evaluation of some chlorinated chemicals which are discussed in the context of the Convention. Euro Chlor has also contributed to the debate with the EU Commission on establishing concentration limits for POPs in waste.
Under the umbrella of the World Chlorine Council, Euro Chlor has contributed to the development of guidelines for the environmentally sound management of persistent organic pollutant wastes. Likewise, the chemical industry has assisted in developing BAT and BEP Guidelines and the Basel POPs Waste Guidelines. BAT/BEB guidelines are developed as general guidance, recognising that local conditions, resources and economics should be taken into account.
The application of these techniques and practices by numerous countries has been successful in dramatically reducing releases of unintentional POPs and in safely managing POPs wastes. These guidelines should also help resolve unjustified accusations that have been made during the past ten years or so against the chlorine and PVC industries regarding release of the unintentional by-products dioxins and furans.
Euro Chlor continues to track the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on POPs and is committed to a science-based, transparant and effective implementation in close co-operation with our chemical industry sectors, the World Chlorine Council and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).
More information about World Chlorine Council on worldchlorine.org.
More information about International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) on icca-chem.org.
UPDATE - 22 May 2017 - SCCP under the Stockholm Convention
At the 2017 COP in Geneva, SCCP was listed on Annex A (elimination) with a list of specific exemptions that covers nearly all current uses. These include rubber transmission and conveyor belts, leather fat liquoring, lubricant additives, outdoor decoration bulbs, waterproof and fire retardant paints, adhesives, metal processing and secondary plasticisers (except in toys and children's products). These exemptions will now be applied for by those interested parties and the POPRC will assess the exemptions (need and availability of alternatives). Such applications must take place by 2019 and will be evaluated by POPRC in their 2020 meeting for presentation at COP10 in 2021. Such uses are often given a 5-year lifespan with a possibility of an additional 5-year extension.
Questions were again raised by several parties on whether SCCP meets the bioaccumulative and long-range transport criteria and chemical identity was also questioned. A 1% limit was placed in mixtures containing SCCPs, despite the fact that when one considers the chemistry of these substances, SCCP cannot be present in MCCP or LCCP.
Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) was finally listed on Annex C of the convention (reduction of unintentional production).
Dolf van Wijk
Euro Chlor Executive Director
tel. +32 (0)2 676 73 70