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A Toxics-Free Future


Why Low POPs Content Levels Matter

Strong limits for POPs in waste supported by IPEN

  • PCDD/D + dl PCBs - 1 ppb (1 microgram TEQ/kg)
  • PBDEs (tetra-, penta- hexa-, hepta-, decaBDE): 50 mg/kg as a sum 
  • HBCD - 100 mg/kg
  • SCCP - 100 mg/kg
  • PFOS, PFOA or PFHxS and their salts individually - 0.025 mg/kg 
  • Sum of PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS and related compounds - 10 mg/kg 

How we can eliminate POPs in Waste for Health and Environmental Protection

POPs are the most toxic and persistent chemicals ever studied and include dioxins (PCDD/Fs), PCBs, and some PFAS and brominated flame retardants (PBDEs). The Stockholm Convention requires the destruction of wastes that exceed POPs limit values – and bans the recycling of wastes contaminated with POPs to maintain toxic-free material cycles. POPs limit values, also known as Low POPs Content Levels (LPCLs), are set by the Basel Convention and are a crucial tool to control potential releases of POPs due to improper handling of POPs wastes.

Different methods to determine POPs waste limits (LPCLs) may come up with a range of values, creating weak or stronger limits. IPEN supports strong limits to protect human health and the environment – but others who stress ‘economic considerations’ to protect industry profits in the plastic, recycling, and waste incineration sectors call for weaker limits.

Unfortunately, the current approach to setting limits neglects the serious harm to the environment and human health and the associated socioeconomic costs that can arise when POPs-containing wastes are recycled and exported to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

View our recent webinar on Low POPs Content Levels

Additional Resources

Non-combustion technologies for POPs destruction already available

Industry has long perpetuated the myth that POPs waste needs to be destroyed with high-temperature incineration. In facrt, burning POPs waste creates a further cycle of dioxin emissions to air and produces mountains of toxic ash laced with more POPs.

Some countries have already been moving beyond polluting incinerators, implementing non-combustion technologies for POPs waste destruction. These advanced, cleaner technologies are able to destroy POPs waste without dioxin emissions and without generating toxic ash residues.

Non-combustion Resources

Impact 1 of weak limits for POPs in waste: POPs recycling contaminates children toys

Recycling POPs in wastes leads to contamination of new products, including toys, made of the recycled material. This poisons the circular economy and allows POPs-rich material to circulate in our products and waste and increases human exposure to vulnerable populations.

Impact 2 of weak limits for POPs in waste: POPs waste export and waste incineration toxic fly ash poisons food chain

Waste incinerators are a key source of POPs as air emissions, but the much greater releases of POPs through the waste incineration residues have largely been ignored. IPEN research has revealed the global scale of the problem of POPs-contaminated incinerator ash, which is generated at a rate of millions of tons every year.

For more information visit: Waste Incineration & Toxics in Eggs