Legal control of POPs stems from two international treaties:
- Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants;
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
In the EU, the requirements of the above treaties have been implemented by Regulation (EC) 850/2004 on Persistent Organic Pollutants (as amended). Hereafter referred to as the 'EU POPs Regulations'.
This Regulation also amends the EU Regulation on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117/EEC which prohibits the placing on the market (and use) of plant protection products containing certain active substances.
In the UK, administration of POPs law and penalties for non-compliance have been implemented by the Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007.
This law delegates responsibility and powers to the following Competent Authorities (who also function as the Enforcement Authorities):
- Environment Agency (in England and Wales)
- Department of the Environment (in Northern Ireland)
- Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (in Scotland)
What do the EU POPs Regulations do?
The EU POPs Regulations:
- ban or restrict the production, use and sale of listed Persistent Organic Pollutant chemicals;
- require efforts to minimise the formation of unintentional persistent organic by-products;
- describe how stockpiles of POPs must be managed (please read the following information).
Any stockpile of substances that contains POPs must be managed as waste, unless the holder's use of the substance is covered by a listed exemption.
Wastes that contain POPs must be managed by a prescribed method. This is to make sure that the chemicals cannot pose a risk to human health or the environment. Other methods of waste management require a derogation (see section on derogations).
Stockpiles of POPs that are held for a permitted use and exceed 50kg must be notified to the Competent Authority.
Contravention of the legal requirements is an offence which may result in a fine, imprisonment or both.
If you have waste that contains POPs and plan to dispose of it by methods other than those prescribed by the EU POPs Regulations, you must get approval (derogation) from the Competent Authority:
If you have material that contains POPs and has a permitted use then you may need to notify a POP stockpile to the Competent Authority. Download our briefing note for more information about when, what and how to notify - it includes an optional form to help you submit the required details.