Updates to the European Union (EU) Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation are moving forward after passing the first round of consultations.
The EU POPs regulation is the European implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a globally-adopted treaty that came into effect in 2004. Changes to in 2015 brought the toxicology committee to an end and created a need to adopt comitology provisions (the set of procedures for EU countries to control how the European Commission implements EU law), resulting in a recast.
The recast gives the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) the responsibility of enforcing the updated regulation. This centralization of EU chemicals legislation enforcement is expected to result in improved coordination of implementation and enforcement of regulations such as EU POPs and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. The amendments also propose the alignment of EU POPs with EU REACH and updates made to the Stockholm Convention in 2015.
The European Commission expects the changes will:
- Provide more clarity, transparency and legal certainty.
- Reduce overall costs and increase available scientific knowledge by transferring tasks from the European Commission to the ECHA.
The recast has attracted feedback from groups such as the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe. The primary concern voiced by the industry is that substances should be referred to by their individual CAS number, or another unique identifier, and not by family of substances. This is because a substance may belong to several families, and be in different phases of the regulatory process concurrently or have different conditions of use.
Members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the changes on October 10, 2018. The proposed changes are expected to receive final approval at the plenary meeting on October 22 to 25, 2018.
Any company that manufactures, sells, resells, imports or exports products that contain POPs into the EU is subject to both the POPs protocol and the updated EU POPs Regulation.