Enviropass Logo

Persistent Organic Pollutants Waste

The release of POP-containing waste above certain concentration limits into the environment can negatively affect the ecosystem and human health. Accordingly, EU regulation on persistent organic pollutants contains waste management provisions to address the issues related to POP waste and how to control it.

Persistent Organic Pollutants POPs

What are POPs?

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are organic substances that do not decompose in the environment and accumulate in living organisms. POPs are chemical compounds that include the following:

  • pesticides (such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)),
  • industrial compounds (such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), historically utilized in electrical transformers),
  • additives used intentionally in the production of consumers goods (such as Alkanes C10-C13, Chloro (short-chain chlorinated paraffins) (SCCPs)), and
  • unintended by-products result from industrial operations, degradation, or combustion (such as dioxins and furans).
Pesticide POP waste

These chemicals pose a threat to human health and the environment. Moreover, air, water, or migratory species can carry these compounds to other regions worldwide. Consequently, to address these issues, European Union has restricted these chemicals under EU regulation 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants (EU POP) after the Stockholm Convention of 2004.

EU POP and Waste Management

The release of Persistent Organic Pollutants into the environment may result from inappropriate treatment or disposal of waste containing or contaminated by POPs. Additionally, a few waste disposal techniques might lead to the unintended generation and release of POPs. One of the primary purposes of EU POP legislation is to implement particular control measures that ensure the environmentally sound disposal of POP wastes. Importantly, these waste management measures aim to minimize or eliminate the release of these persistent and bio-accumulative substances into the environment.

POP Waste

POP Waste Substances List

Annex IV of the EU POP regulation provides the list of POP substances found in waste, alongside their acceptable concentration limit. The table below is the list of some substances with their concentration limit subject to waste management according to the Annex IV of the 2022 consolidated text of the EU POP regulation:


CAS Number

Concentration limit



50 mg/kg

Alkanes C10-C13, chloro (short chain chlorinated paraffins) (SCCPs)


10,000 mg/kg



50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg

DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl)ethane)


50 mg/kg

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs):

Tetrabromodiphenyl ether C12H6Br4O, Pentabromodiphenyl ether C12H5Br5O, Hexabromodiphenyl ether C12H4Br6O, Heptabromodiphenyl ether C12H3Br7O, Decabromodiphenyl ether C12Br10O,

40088-47-9, 32534-81-9, 36483-60-0, 68928-80-3, 1163-19-5 and others

1,000 mg/kg (Sum of PBDEs)



50 mg/kg


115-29-7; 33213-65-9; 959-98-8

50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg



100 mg/kg

Hexachlorocyclohexanes, including lindane

319-84-6; 319-85-7; 58-89-9; 608-73-1

50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg


134237-50-6; 134237-51-7; 134237-52-8; 25637-99-4; 3194-55-6

1,000 mg/kg



50 mg/kg



50 mg/kg

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds

335-67-1 and others

25 mg/kg

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives (PFOS)

1691-99-2; 1763-23-1; 24448-09-7; 251099-16-8; 2795-39-3; 29457-72-5; 29081-56-9; 307-35-7; 31506-32-8; 4151-50- 2; 56773-42-3; 70225-14-8; and others

50 mg/kg

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)

1336-36-3 and others

50 mg/kg

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF)


15 μg/kg

Polychlorinated naphthalenes


10 mg/kg



50 mg/kg

What are the Obligations of Waste Producers and Holders?

Producers and holders of waste must follow all practical steps according to relevant Union legislation to prevent the contamination of their waste with any of the chemicals mentioned in Annex IV. Furthermore, the producer or the holder of the waste containing or contaminated by any of these compounds should destroy or permanently alter the POP content, without undue delay, by disposing of or recovering the waste. The residual waste should not have the characteristics of POPs, which means that the content of the listed substances in the waste should be below the concentration thresholds specified in Annex IV. The following are some accepted disposal and recovery operations to destroy or irreversibly transform the POP content of the waste:

  • Physico-chemical treatment
  • Incineration on land
  • Use primarily as a fuel or other means for energy generation, excluding waste containing PCBs
  • Metal and metal compounds recycling or reclamation (under specific conditions set out in Annex V Part 1 of the regulation)
Waste of electronics

In addition, a Member State or the responsible authority designated by that Member State may allow the POP content in wastes to exceed the specified limit when:

  1. It is not feasible to decontaminate the waste regarding the chemicals mentioned in Annex IV, or
  2. The best available approach for POP content removal or irreversible transformation is not the environmentally preferred option

Other EU Waste Regulations

Besides EU POP, there are other EU waste laws targeting hazardous substances in everyday products, including:

For more information about EU POP and how to comply with it, contact Enviropass!