According to Article 3 of the POPs Regulation, the manufacturing, placing on the market and use of substances listed in Annex I, whether on their own, in mixtures or in articles is prohibited. Therefore, by definition, the use of a substance listed in Annex I, including its use for the formulation of a mixture or production of an article is prohibited, except when a specific exemption for the use has been added to the relevant entry in the Annex I, or their use for laboratory-scale research or as a reference standard (Article 4(1)(a)).
The exemption set out under Article 4(1)(b) cannot apply to intentional uses of the substance, as indicated in the definition for “unintentional trace contaminant” in Article 2(12): “‘unintentional trace contaminant’ means a level of a substance that is incidentally present in a minimal amount, below which the substance cannot be meaningfully used, and above the detection limit of existing detection methods to enable control and enforcement”.
For those substances for which a maximum unintentional trace contaminant (UTC) value has not been defined in Annex I, the analytical limit of detection (LOD) shall apply; meaning that substances, mixtures, or articles containing these Annex I substances above the analytical LOD cannot benefit from the exemption defined in point (b) of Article 4(1).
- POP substances on their own have to be destroyed or irreversible transformed (Article 7(3)).
- For waste containing POPs, Article 7(2) lays down a general rule, according to which the waste should be treated in such a way that the POP content is destroyed (or irreversibly transformed). However, by way of derogation from Article 7(2), Article 7(4)(a) stipulates that for waste with a low POP content (i.e. below the concentration limits set in Annex IV), other treatments - leading to the destruction of the POP content or not - are possible. This means e.g. that plastic waste containing POPs below the concentrations defined in Annex IV can potentially be disposed of via non-destructive methods (e.g. in a non-hazardous waste landfill) or be recycled (but the resulting recyclate would have in addition to meet the applicable UTC limit value in Annex I in order to be placed on the market). It has to be noted that Article 7(3) is also applicable: this means that operations aimed at recovering POP substances (contained in the waste) are explicitly forbidden.