EU Commission Refers Greece to Court Over Hazardous Waste
On 25 September 2014, the European Commission1 announced that it is asking the European Union Court to fine Greece for 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.
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 substances listed in Table 1
- 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 Table 1 shall be prohibited
Failure to follow these rules could result in the producer, or processor of the waste receiving a fine.
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.
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 organisations 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 minimise POPs contamination should be a priority for any organisation. Demonstrating this commitment through independent third party inspection and audits can further strengthen consumer confidence and trust.
Table 1. List of Substances Subject to Waste Management Provisions Set Out in Article 7
|Substance||cas number||CONCENTRATION LIMIT REFERRED TO IN ARTICLE 7 (4) (a)|
|9||Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)||1336-36-3 and others||50 mg/kg|
and dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF)
For further information, please contact:
Multi-Chemical Lab Supervisor
SGS Taiwan Ltd.
t: +886 2 22993279 Ext. 3136
1 European Commission asks Court to fine Greece for inadequate management of hazardous waste