The European Parliament has recently voted for new tougher limits on the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to reduce amounts in the recycling chain for a toxic-free circular economy.

These chemicals pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and nature, the European Commission said, as they persist in the environment and bio-accumulate through the food web.

Following a debate, MEPs voted (Tuesday, May 3) in favour of the reduction and elimination of POPs in products, which consist of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals and unintentional by-products of industrial processes, the commission added.

Toxic waste

Speaking to EuroParlRadio, Green Party MEP, Grace O’Sullivan said these highly dangerous chemicals are found in different types of plastics and should be eliminated, not recycled.

POPs – toxic chemical compounds – take hundreds of years to break down and are transported through water and air, Fine Gael MEP, Deirdre Clune told EuroParlRadio.

The European Commission explained that POPs are transported across international boundaries far from their sources, and therefore pose a threat to the environment and to human health all over the globe.

MEP Clune added that these pollutants build up in organisms, enter the food chain and are then absorbed into human tissue where they can be passed on over generations.

Commenting on the recent vote in the European Parliament, Rapporteur Martin Hojsík said:

“We cannot tolerate the presence of persistent organic pollutants in materials and waste, otherwise there will be no circular economy in the EU, but an economy of toxic recycled products.”

The vote followed proposals presented by the commission to review the 2019 regulation on POPs to ensure they are aligned with international obligations, particularly the Stockholm Convention to eliminate or restrict the use of these chemicals, according to EuroParlRadio.

The European Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with EU member states on the final shape of the legislation.