ZeroPM Regulatory Watch

As the EU Green Deal roles out, the ZeroPM regulatory watch will announce upcoming initiatives related to persistent and mobile substances. Our most recent update was on October 30’th 2022.

On the 26’th October, the Commission published the Commission proposals for revising the lists of surface and groundwater pollutants (WFD, EQS and Groundwater Directives), revising the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, and the Ambient Air Quality Directive. Main changes are highlighted below.

Proposal for the revision of the revision of the WFD, EQSD and GWD:

Amendments to Groundwater Directive:

  • New Article 6a makes the ‘Watch List Mechanism’ for groundwater bodies mandatory and establishes a three year review process for the watch list feeding into a six yearly revision of quality standards (Annex I). Also includes an obligation for ECHA to make the scientific reports prepared in relation to the Watch List publicly available.
  • New Article 8: provisions on the revision of the Annexes by means of the legislative procedure are deleted and replaced by provisions granting powers to the Commission for amending the Annexes through delegated acts – e.g. for listing new groundwater pollutants in Annex I and establishing new EU-wide quality standards. This should facilitate and accelerate the adoption of amendments to the annexes.
  • Annex I on EU wide quality standards for groundwater pollutants is amended to insert new groundwater pollutants and related quality standard for some PFAS, pharmaceuticals and non-relevant metabolites of pesticides. Regarding PFAS, a quality standard is introduced for the sum of 24 PFAS: 0,0044 μg/l. List of substances is in attached Annexes (Annex III). The standard is in line with the opinion of the SCHEER of August 2022.

Amendments to EQSD:

  • Article 8 : provisions granting powers to the Commission to revise Annex I every six years through delegated acts (instead of legislative procedure) in order to consider listing new priority substances and related EQS, based on input by ECHA. Also contains an obligation for ECHA to make scientific reports related to the amendment of the Annexes publicly available.
  • Article 8b: sets a three year review cycle for the surface water Watch List instead of the current two year cycle to give more time to process the data before revising the list and extends the monitoring cycle from 12 to 24 months to allow better consideration of different frequencies for pollutants with seasonal emission patterns (e.g. pesticides/biocides)
  • Annex I: 23 new substances are added to the list of priority substances including pharmaceuticals, industrial substances, pesticides and metals. The Annex also indicates the substances that are hazardous, those that are ubiquitous PBTs as well as those that require long-term trend assessment. Among the 23 new substances, an EQS is defined for the sum of the concentrations of the 24 PFAS expressed as PFOA-equivalents : 0,0044 μg/l (surface water) and 0,077 μg/kg wet weigh (biota). List of substances is in attached Annexes (Annex V). The EQS is in line with the opinion of the SCHEER of August 2022.

Proposal for the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive:

  • New article 8 on Quaternary treatment: obligation to apply additional treatment to urban wastewater in order to eliminate the broadest possible spectrum of micro-pollutants.
  • New Article 9 on Extended producer responsibility: obligation for producers (including importers) of certain products (pharmaceuticals and personal care products only) to contribute to the costs of the quaternary treatment.
  • Revision of Article 15 on water reuse: Paragraph 1 has been amended so that Member States will be required to systematically promote the reuse of treated wastewater from all urban wastewater treatment plants.
  • New Article 17 Urban wastewater surveillance : establishes a national urban wastewater monitoring system to monitor relevant public health parameters in urban wastewater.
  • New Article 18 on Risk assessment and management: obligation for Member States to assess the risks caused by urban wastewater discharges to the environment and human health, and, where necessary, take
    additional measures on top of this Directive’s minimum requirements to address these risks.
  • Revision of Article 20 on sludge: sludge will have to be treated, recycled and recovered whenever appropriate and disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the Waste Framework Directive and the Sludge Directive.
  • Revision of article 21 on monitoring: For all agglomerations of above 10 000 population equivalent, Member States must monitor at the inlets and outlets of urban wastewater treatment plants, the concentration and loads in the urban wastewater of pollutants listed in EQSD, Groundwater Directive, E-PRTR, Sewage sludge Directive and the presence of microplastics including in the sludge.

Upcoming consultation deadlines:

  • Deadline to comment on the draft Commission Proposal revising the lists of surface and groundwater pollutants: 23 December 2022.
  • Deadline to comment on the draft Commission Proposal revising the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive:  23 December 2022.
  • Deadline to comment on the draft Commission Proposal revising the Ambient Air Quality Directive: 23 December 2022.
  • Deadline to respond to the public consultation on the revision of the Food Contact Material legislation: 11 January 2023.

Other EU policy updates 

  • Council adopted on 24 October the revision of the POPs Regulation adding new substances – including PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds, PFHxS, its salts and PFHxS-related compounds – to Annex IV setting concentration limits of POPs in waste. 
  • Several Member States voiced support for the REACH revision in the Environment Council – 24.10.22: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden regretted the postponement of the Commission proposal and called for its publication as soon as possible. Commissioner responded that the proposal will be presented as soon as finalised – before the end of 2023 if ready.
  • Belgium put the subject of PFAS on the agenda of the Environment Council on 24.10.22 and provided an information note to the Council. In addition to supporting a broad PFAS restriction and addressing PFAS in each relevant piece of legislation, Belgium supports increased exchange of information and cooperation between Member States on decontamination practices and techniques.

General support from Member States to the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and the digital product passport in Council. In ENVI council, five Member States stressed the necessity ensure alignment of the Regulation with REACH (IE, LV, LT, PL, SI) but no major issues were raised in relation to ecodesign requirements for substances of concern. Other concerns were raised in relation to costs for SMEs, practical implementation and enforcement of the Regulation and ease of use of the digital product passport for consumers.

Below you can find a Gantt chart of upcoming actions related to regulations that could impact the use and management of persistent and mobile substances in Europe, as well as an Excel spreadsheet for download with more information and links.

Upcoming EU Green Deal actions related to the management of persistent and mobile substances:

The ZeroPM regulatory watch itself is presented in this spreadsheet, which contains links for further information. This can be downloaded below.

The ZeroPM regulatory watch was last updated on 2022-08-11.

Please see also our video explainer of the ZeroPM regulatory watch!