Policy paper

Persistent organic pollutants: national implementation plan

This publication was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This National Implementation Plan (NIP) sets out how the UK will implement their obligations under the Stockholm Convention.

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The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are a group of chemicals which persist in the environment, may bioaccumulate in food and human tissues and are toxic. These chemicals also have the potential to be transported long distances and deposited far away from their place of release including in pristine environments such as the Arctic. The Convention requires that Parties adopt and introduce measures to reduce releases of POPs into the environment with the aim of reducing human and wildlife exposure.

There are 22 POP chemicals listed in the Convention. These fall into three broad categories:

  • pesticides (such as aldrin, chlordecone and lindane),
  • industrial chemicals (such as pentabromodiphenyl ether) and
  • unintentionally produced by-products of combustion and some industrial and non-industrial processes (such as dioxins, furans).

The pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in the Convention have been banned in the UK for many years, with some limited exemptions.

Overall the UK has made good progress against the actions outlined in the 2007 NIP. In terms of future activity, the priority is to gain a better understanding of the potential scale and level of emissions from past (legacy) uses and in-use items containing POPs, particularly when these enter the waste stream. The UK Government will also continue to support research on POPs, which will help to inform future measures needed to achieve further emission reductions.