Overview

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.

This group of priority pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans). Improper treatment or disposal of a waste consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs can lead to releases of POPs into the environment. Some disposal technologies can also lead to the unintentional formation and release of POPs.

POPs wastes are listed as wastes in Annexes I and VIII of the Basel Convention text. Technical guidelines are developed under the Basel Convention for the environmentally sound management of the wastes falling under its scope. Technical guidelines provide for the foundation upon which countries can operate at a standard that is not less environmentally sound than that required by the Basel Convention. The Convention defines "environmentally sound management" of wastes subject to its control as taking all practicable steps to ensure that these wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants adopted in 2001, aims to protect human health and the environment from highly dangerous, long-lasting chemicals by restricting and ultimately eliminating their production, use, trade, release and storage. Article 6, paragraph 2 of the Stockholm Convention mandates its Parties to cooperate closely with the appropriate bodies of the Basel Convention on common issues of relevance.

The updated general technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) was adopted by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel Convention by its decision VIII/16. Further, the COP mandated by its decision BC-11/3, to update the general technical guidelines and the preparation or updating of specific technical guidelines with regard to the chemicals listed in Annexes A, B and C to the Stockholm Convention by its decisions SC-4/10, SC-4/11, SC-4/12, SC-4/13, SC-4/14, SC-4/15, SC-4/16, SC-4/17, SC-4/18, SC-5/3, and SC-6/13 of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention.