On 25 September 2014, the European Commission (1) announced that it is asking the European Union Court to fine Greece for inadequate management of hazardous waste.
Greece Inadequate Management of Hazardous Waste
The fine is EUR 14,904,736 and a daily penalty payment of EUR 72,864 until Greece fulfills its obligations. The hazardous waste includes medical waste, and chemical waste, such polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and polychloroterphenyls (PCTs).
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids, for example in electrical apparatus, cutting fluids for machining operations, carbon paper and in heat transfer fluids. Their production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001, due to their environmental toxicity and classification as a persistent organic pollutant (POP). According to the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (US EPA), PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals including humans.
Persistent Organic Pollutants Waste Management in Europe
In accordance with the Stockholm Convention and EU POPs (Regulation (EC) 850/2004), waste that contains POPs needs to be strictly managed. Article 7 of the EU POPs Regulation has established rules for waste management. This includes three major points:
- Producers and holders of waste shall undertake all reasonable efforts to avoid, where feasible, contamination of this waste with a list of substances summarized in table 1 within the latest SGS news release (http://www.sgs.com/en/Our-Company/News-and-Media-Center/News-and-Press-Releases/2014/12/EU-Commission-Refers-Greece-to-Court-Over-Hazardous-Waste.aspx).
- Ensuring that the persistent organic pollutant content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that the remaining waste and releases do not exhibit the characteristics of persistent organic pollutants.
- Disposal or recovery operations that may lead to recovery, recycling, reclamation or re-use of substances listed in the above-mentioned table shall be prohibited.
Failure to follow these rules could result in the producer, or processor of the waste receiving a fine.
Source of Persistent Organic Pollutants
Mostly man-made, POPs have established a foothold in the soil, water and tissues of nearly all living organisms on Earth. Their effects on human health and wildlife have been well researched and international treaties and regulations are in place to eliminate their production and usage. Food and consumer goods are responsible for over 90% of the POPs risk to the human population.
White Paper on Persistent Organic Pollutants
SGS has published a white paper to provide an overview on current thinking within the food and consumer goods industries, on how best to manage POPs risk in products and supply chains.
This paper is aimed equally at those organizations with established POPs control and management plans, as well as those considering development and implementation of POPs risk protocols. Implementing and demonstrating effective management systems to minimize POPs contamination should be a priority for any organization. Demonstrating this commitment through independent third party inspection and audits can further strengthen consumer confidence and trust.
The whitepaper on Proliferation, Regulation and Mitigation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Consumer Products and Supply Chains (http://www.sgs.com/en/White-Paper-Library/Proliferation-Regulation-and-Mitigation-of-Persistent-Organic-Pollutants.aspx) can be downloaded on the SGS website.
(1) European Commission asks Court to fine Greece for inadequate management of hazardous waste
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