Removing POP from the cycle: proposal to introduce limit values

polystyrene insulation materials are removed from a facadeClick to enlarge
HBCD was used as a flame retardant in polystyrene insulation materials – a waste disposal headache
Source: Leo Brix /

One of the principles of environmental protection is that wastes must be recycled. However, it is counterproductive to reintroduce a recycled product which contains pollutants. An UBA study examines how this can be prevented for five persistent organic pollutants (POP).

POP are chemical compounds that are degraded very slowly in the environment, which accumulate in the food chain and are toxic to humans and the environment either directly or over time. The five chemical compounds HBCD, HCBD, PCN, PCP and SCCP were tracked in the study to determine their presence in waste and recycled products. The study recommends when wastes should still be recycled and which disposal paths, including incineration, should be preferred when wastes contain higher amounts of pollutants. The study's recommendations will have some influence on the European negotiations on a revision of the Regulation on persistent organic pollutants. The pollutant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), for example, will be significant in Germany's waste management for a long time to come. Until recently it was the most common flame retardant used in polystyrene insulation materials, in upholstery materials or the coatings of housing plastics.