Regulation (EU) 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants

Jurisdiction:  EU

Commencement:   15th July 2019

Revokes:   Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 on persistent organic pollutants


Mini Summary

This Regulation creates a legal framework to protect human health and the environment by prohibiting, phasing out, or restricting the production, placing on the market and use of Persistent Organic Pollutants.


Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances which stay in the environment, migrate into, and accumulate in the food chain and threaten human health and the environment. POPs can be found in pesticides, industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls – PCBs), and industrial by-products.

The purpose of this Regulation is the protection of the environment and human health from POPs by prohibiting, phasing out, or restricting the manufacturing, placing on the market, and use of substances subject to:


It also seeks to minimise and eventually eliminate releases of substances containing POPs and control waste containing, or contaminated by, them.

This Regulation is implemented in the United Kingdom (UK) by The Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007.



Controlling the manufacture, placing on the market, use, and listing of substances

The manufacture, placing on the market, and use of substances listed in Annex I either on their own, in mixtures, or in articles is prohibited.

The manufacturing, placing on the market, and use of substances listed in Annex II either on their own, in mixtures, or in articles is restricted. The conditions of restrictions for each listed substance are detailed in the Annex.

Exemptions from control measures

Some listed substances are exempt from control measures when:

  • used for laboratory scale research or as a reference standard.
  • present as unintended trace contaminants in substances, mixtures, or articles for intermediate use or under the specification detailed in the relevant Annex.


Substances added to Annex I or II after the Regulation is in force are given a  6 month grace period for articles produced on, or before, the date that the substance became restricted, during which the above controls do not apply.

Control measures do not apply to articles containing a listed substance which was already in use at the time that the substance became listed.

Though the control measures do not apply in the above circumstances, where an EU country becomes aware of exempt articles they are required to notify the European Commission (EC) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECA) accordingly.


A stockpile which contains any substances listed in Annex I or Annex II for which no use is permitted should be managed as waste.

Notified stockpiles

If the stockpile is:

  • greater than 50kg;
  • contains any substances listed in Annex I or II; and
  • use is permitted


the holder must provide the competent authority in their country with information on the nature and size of the stockpile within 12 months of the Regulation becoming applicable to the substance.

Stockpiles must be managed in a safe, efficient, and environmentally sound manner which protects human health and the environment.

European (EU) countries are required to monitor the use and management of notified stockpiles.

Inventories and action plans

By July 2021, EU countries are required to produce and maintain an inventory of the substances listed in Annex III that have been released to air, water, and land.

EU countries must also develop an action plan which includes measures to identify, characterise, and minimise, with a view to eliminating, the total release of substances listed in Annex III and communicate this to the EC, ECA, and other EU countries.

Action plans should include measures to promote the development and use of substitute or modified substances, mixtures or articles, and processes to prevent the formation and release of POPs.

When considering proposals for new facilities or significant modification of facilities using processes that release chemicals listed in Annex III, EU countries must consider alternative processes, techniques or practices that are similar but avoid the formation and release of the listed substances.

Waste management 

Producers and holders of waste must avoid the contamination of waste with substances listed in Annex IV, where possible.

Waste containing, or contaminated by any of the substances in Annex IV must be disposed of or recovered, without delay, in a way that ensures the POP content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that the remaining waste and any releases don’t have the characteristics of POPs.

If a waste contains, or is contaminated by a substance listed in Annex IV but in a concentration below that specified in the Annex, the restrictions do not apply.

In exceptional cases, the competent authorities may allow certain wastes (listed in Part 2 of Annex V) which contain, or are contaminated by a controlled substance (Annex IV) to be disposed of or recovered by an authorised operation (as specified for that waste in Annex V) as long as the following requirements are met:

  • The holder can demonstrate that;
    • decontamination of the waste of the substance in Annex IV  was not feasible; and
    • destruction or irreversible transformation of the POP content in line with best practice and best available techniques is not the environmentally preferable option, and therefore the alternative operation has been authorised.
  • Information on the POP content of the waste has been provided.
  • The operation meets any additional measures contained in implementing acts produced by the EC.
  • The competent authority has informed the other EU countries, the ECA and the EC of the authorisation.


EU countries are required to take steps to ensure that control and traceability of waste containing, or contaminated by, substances listed in Annex IV, in line with the control of hazardous waste requirements in the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (The Waste Framework Directive).  

Implementation plans 

EU countries must prepare and update national implementation plans, in line with national procedures and through consultation with the public. The plans must then be made publically available and be communicated to the EC, ECA, and other EU countries.

The EC will maintain, review, and publish an implementation plan for EU obligations under the Convention.


The EC is required to establish and maintain programmes and mechanisms for regular and comparable monitoring of  the presence of substances as listed in Part A of Annex III in the environment.

It is also required to assess the need for mandatory monitoring of any substance listed in Part B of Annex III.

EU countries are required to designate a competent authority responsible for the enforcement of the Regulation and inform the EC by the 16th October 2019.

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