Some key conclusions and recommendations of the POPRC guidance on alternative assessments are
There is abundant information on alternatives to POPs. Currently available publications and some of the current knowledge have been compiled in this publication. However, there are undoubtedly more alternatives chemicals and alternative products available, which are currently not considered in this publication. Also the performance of some products or approaches might change future, which will then need to be included in any updated publication. Therefore it is recommended to continue to gather information on POPs alternatives and POPs free products and articles and to encourage all stakeholders to submit best practice case studies and suggestions for POPs alternatives and POPs free products/articles as they become available.
This information can be forwarded to the Secretariat to email@example.com.
It is also recommended that information exchange between stakeholders including industry, governmental institutions, regional centres, the research community and NGOs is facilitated.
On many alternatives data and information has been generated by the respective producers and the industries using these alternatives. However a considerable share of this information is considered confidential business information and is not disclosed. The challenge with confidential business information has e.g. been discovered by the POPRC within the work on PFOS alternatives resulting in difficulty with the PFOS alternatives document. This negatively impacts correct decision-making and has negative impact on appropriate health and safety information. Improved communication and information exchange between these stakeholders and a better sharing of information is needed in particular those data which help to better protect human health and the environment considering the Overarching Policy Strategy paragraph 15c „information on chemicals relating to the health and safety of humans and the environment should not be regarded as confidential“.
There is a lack of information of the presence and fate of POPs in articles and products. The detailed former and current use of some POPs in articles and products are unknown. It is not known, for example, which particular article is affected (i.e whether a particular TV or car contains PBDE, which synthetic carpet contain PFOS or which textile contains HBCD) since a variety of chemicals have been used in different ways and possibly at different rates. Getting more information on chemicals in products from industrial stakeholders in possession of this information is crucial. Also here the industry should consider the relevance to appropriately manage POPs in products and articles and take into account the extended producer responsibility and be more flexible in respect to what they consider confidential business information.
The need for information exists at every stage of the supply chain, including manufacturers/OEMs, retailers, consumers, waste handlers, and others. It is important to create disclosure requirements at the national and international levels to ensure this information is available to all stakeholders.
In addition further activities on screening of articles/products where POPs might have originally been used or nave been transferred by recycling are called for from the science community.
The situation is complicated by recycling of POPs containing articles where even less is known about the presence of POPs since the use of materials from recycling can contaminate products and articles where there was no original use of POPs.
Therefore it is recommended that more information is generated/gathered in which original products/articles and in which recycling flows POPs are present and to which extent they are present. In particular the knowledge base is weak in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. It is also recommended that the information is made available then to other Parties.
These activities can be linked where appropriate to UNEP’s on-going work related to information flow for Chemicals in Products Project and the UNEPs’ Chemical Information Exchange Network (CIEN) and possibly stimulate activities of CIEN.
For some articles/products and for material flows in recycling possibly be impacted by POPs more well planned monitoring activities are needed. For this screening/monitoring of POPs in articles a guidance has been developed (Guidance on Sampling, Screening and Analysis of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Products and Articles, Monitoring of POPs in articles and products(Drft), Monitoring guidance to screen POPs in articles in Monitoring of POPs in articles and products of Part IV) and it is recommended that the guidance is studied when planning monitoring projects of POPs in articles and considered where appropriate.
It is further recommended that monitoring of POPs in articles is not done in isolation by individual country projects but that where possible regional projects to monitor POPs in articles and products are developed possibly coordinated or supported by the work of the regional centres.
It is recommended that coordinated monitoring of POPs in products and articles is conducted by regional studies possibly coordinated by regional centres to minimize efforts and maximise outcomes. Such monitoring might be supported by South-North or South-South cooperation with experienced institutions or research groups.
Information about POPs in products and articles is essential in order to make it possible for all stakeholders to make informed decisions. While stakeholders working closely with Stockholm Convention issues might easily get access to information on POPs alternatives and POPs free products (such as this publication and related resource materials) other stakeholders normally not exposed to the Stockholm Convention implementation will usually not be exposed to such information. For instance, there are a number of stakeholders e.g. those working in recycling of materials and of producing new products from recycled materials which may not be aware on the possible contamination with POPs chemicals. Also industries where POPs are or have been used might not be aware of all POPs alternatives.
The recommendation is that stakeholders for which information on POPs and POPs alternatives and POPs free might be relevant need as first step to be discovered and then contacted. In a second step information materials should be provided or possibly workshops organized informing on best practice of substitution of POPs in articles, products and processes. Such activities might be integrated with for instance cleaner production activities on chemical management or substitution of hazardous chemicals.
The recommendation by POPRC, and the subsequent decision by the COP, that priority should be given to ecosystem approaches to pest management when replacing endosulfan, is a good model for assessing alternatives for other POPs. Wherever a POP is to be replaced priority should be given to looking at non-chemical methods, approaches and products, to avoid creating further downstream problems with hazardous properties of chemicals. This would include analysis of ways in which products or processes could be changed slightly to prevent the need for a replacement chemical.
If the phase-out of a particular chemical identified as hazardous takes place, the substitution process may result in just an incremental rather than a fundamental change of the type of chemical used. On the one hand, this is plausible because it is this chemical structure that generates the desired properties and performance of the chemicals. On the other hand, this incremental change constitutes a problem because also the unwanted properties of the chemicals being replaced may show up in the replacements. For this type of substitution process, where the basic chemical structure is maintained, the term “lock-in” problem was proposed.
Alternatives to known POPs should for a first screening possibly be assessed/considered in classes based on chemical structure and/or functional use. For example, it would be logical to create groupings of halogenated hydrocarbons, and to examine their likely persistence/bioaccumulation potential before considering them as viable alternatives. It is important to avoid regrettable substitutions, in which other potential POPs are adopted as substitutes for POPs that have already been identified. In this sense the POPs research community has developed statements addressing PFAS (Helsingör statement and Madrid statement) and halogenated flame retardants (San Antonio statement).
To assure appropriate substitution the manufacturers of the replacements should generate the information that is required for a detailed and comprehensive hazard and risk assessment of the replacements. This is in principle the intention of the European chemicals regulation, REACH. The information should not only be shared with regulatory bodies, but also be made publicly accessible.
If chemical substitution is used it need to be assured that the most benign alternative are used by applying the available assessment tools and approaches (see chapter 4). By utilizing these tools and by providing comprehensive hazard and risk assessments it can be confirmed that the alternative does not have POPs and POPs-like properties and to a reasonable extent excluded that the alternative has otherwise properties of significant risk.
 Scheringer M, Fantke P, Weber R (2014) How can we avoid the lock-in problem in the substitution of hazardous chemicals used in consumer products? Organohalogen Compound 76.
 Scheringer M, Trier X, Cousins IT, de Voogt P, Fletcher T, Wang Z, Webster TF (2014) Helsingør Statement on poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs). Chemosphere. 2014 Jun 14. Doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.05.044.
 Birnbaum LS, Bergman A (2010) Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants: The San Antonio Statement
Environ Health Perspect. 118, A514–A515.
 Stieger G, Scheringer M, Ng CA, Hungerbühler K (2014) Assessing the persistence, bioaccumulation potential and toxicity of brominated flame retardants: Data availability and quality for 36 alternative brominated flame retardants. Chemosphere. Doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.01.083.
Green chemistry and sustainable chemistry refers to a set of principles designed to reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products.
Green Chemistry is used in two main ways:
(1) Green Chemistry refers to a specific approach to the science of chemistry using the key principles developed by Anastas and Warner; and
(2) Green Chemistry refers to more generally to an approach that takes toxicity and environmental impacts into account e.g. in order to reduce it.
It involves pulling together tools, techniques and technologies that can help chemists and chemical engineers in research, development and production to develop more eco-friendly and efficient products and processes, which may also have significant financial benefits. Green Chemistry aims to improve the way that chemicals are both produced and used in chemical processes in order to reduce any impact on man and the environment.
Sustainable Chemistry needs to have as a major aim a transformation to ‘better’ alternatives that are compatible with human health and the environment “Benign by design,.
Sustainable Chemistry is recognized as an important innovation in achieving sustainability, and encapsulates or enables the principle of substitution in sound management of chemicals that can be transferred from developed to emerging and developing economies.
The right policy frame needs to be set to strengthen the competitiveness of those chemical companies which invest in research and development of safer alternatives. While currently most regulatory approaches work with negative lists, a complementary approach could be to develop and compile lists with chemicals of no or minor concern.
To reach the goal of Green Chemistry the green design of chemicals need to be improved. Generally, a life-cycle perspective on chemicals and the products and processes the chemicals are involved in, needs to be introduced. This is important especially in green product design involving chemical substitution in order to avoid burden shifting from one undesired property to another between substituted and replacement chemicals, but also to avoid burden shifting from specific environmental impacts (e.g. bioaccumulation in the food chain) to other impacts (e.g. groundwater contamination) and from one location to another if the replacement chemicals involve different manufacturing or processing steps.
Overall it is important to establish new strategies for introducing novel types of chemical structures in markets that are dominated by a certain type of chemistry. A first aspect of this is that more research into new types of chemical structures that are in agreement with the principles of Green Chemistry, in particular: low toxicity and no persistence, is needed. Chemical research needs to investigate systematically to what extent it is possible to reconcile the needs for technical performance in defined applications with the requirement that, according to the principles of Green Chemistry, chemical products should be degradable and not highly toxic.
More guidance needs to be developed on how a comprehensive comparative assessment of various environmental aspects can be incorporated into chemical substitution design. Additionally the existing substantial data gaps and uncertainties for such an assessment need to be overcome. This requires an integrated approach of all stakeholders involved including the chemical industry, industrial downstream users of chemicals, regulatory authorities, the research community, and related Non-Governmental Organizations.
 UNEP (2013) Global Chemical Outlook - Towards Sound Management of Chemicals p.210.
 Anastas P, Warner J (1998) Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press
 Royal Society of Chemistry (2002) Note on: Green Chemistry. Version: 5 April 2002.
 Benign by Design Alternative Synthetic Design for Pollution Prevention. Editor(s): Paul T. Anastas, Carol A.Farris, ACS Symposium Series Volume 577, 1994 ISBN13: 9780841230538 eISBN: 9780841214989.
 Klaus Kümmerer (2007) Sustainable from the very beginning: rational design of molecules by life cycle engineering as an important approach for green pharmacy and green chemistry. Green Chem. 9, 899–907.
 Discussed in Wilson, M.P. and Schwarzman, M.R. (2009). Green Chemistry: Wilson and Schwarzman Respond Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009 September, 117(9): A386. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737034/.
 Scheringer M, Fantke P, Weber R (2014) How can we avoid the lock-in problem in the substitution of hazardous chemicals used in consumer products? Organohalogen Compound 76.
 Clark JH. (2006) Green chemistry: today (and tomorrow) Green Chem. 8: 17-21.
Considering the urgent need for resource efficiency and reduction of wastes, the material flows need to be closed and recovery and recycling considerably improved to move towards a circular economy. Therefore recycling will in future become more important or even become a necessity considering the limit of resources. Recently the Basel Convention has changed its policy towards recovery and recycling of wastes by adopting the Cartagena Declaration on the Prevention, Minimization and Recovery of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes. Through this Declaration Parties committed to actively promote and implement more efficient strategies and measures to achieve prevention, minimization and recovery of hazardous waste and other wastes and their disposal with the final aim of reducing the risk for human health and the environment from the dangers posed by such wastes. When now such recovery activities are emphasised which are useful for resource recovery then initiatives to evaluate and minimize the risk from recycling of hazardous materials are of major importance. This needs to specifically control hazardous chemicals such as POPs present in worldwide trade of recyclables (such as PBDEs in plastic, HBCD in textiles or PFOS in synthetic carpets) possibly ending up in recycled products. The recycling of PBDEs and other hazardous chemicals into sensitive uses like plastic toys, household equipment and food contact materials highlights the necessity to better plan and control recycling flows in respect to human exposure (UNEP 2010 a,b).
Therefore it is recommended
 UNEP (2010a). Technical Review of the Implications of Recycling Commercial Pentabromodiphenyl Ether and Commercial Octabromodiphenyl Ether. 6th POP Reviewing Committee meeting Geneva 11-15. October 2010 (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.6/2).
UNEP (2010b) Supporting Document for Technical review of the implications of recycling commercial penta and octabromodiphenyl ethers. 6th POP Reviewing Committee meeting Geneva 11-15. October 2010 (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.6/INF/6).
The manufacture of safe products, the protection of the recycling flows and the end of life management is a particular responsibility of the industry. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) recognizes that product manufacturers must take on new responsibilities for the life cycle of their products and to minimize the environmental impact of their products. However, real change cannot always be achieved by producers acting alone: retailers, consumers, and the existing waste management infrastructure need to help to provide the most workable and cost-effective solutions. Solutions and roles will vary from one product system to another. Product stewardship is a product-centered approach to environmental protection. Also known as extended product responsibility, product stewardship calls on those in the product life cycle—manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers—to share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products.
All industrial stakeholders (producers and users of chemicals as well as the recycling sector) should take up their responsibility and jointly work together for the development of more sustainable products and sustainable chemical and non-chemical alternatives. The industry should be proactive about safer chemical alternatives. The past few decades have seen some bad examples of regrettable substitution of POPs – taking out a harmful chemical and substituting one that turns out to e have similar or other drawbacks. This is extremely costly for down-streamers, governments, and consumers.
Policy makers have their responsibility to develop appropriate regulatory frame for extended producer and product responsibility and that the right incentives are given to promote sustainable chemical and non-chemical alternatives to POPs and POPs-like chemicals.
On the other hand also consumers, NGOs working on chemical have their responsibility to contribute by more sustainable consumption and support of sustainable products containing the most benign alternatives.
The individual roles and responsibilities for sustainable production and consumption need to be better defined that the individual stakeholders know their responsibilities and options and that cooperation and communication between the stakeholders is facilitated as best frame for promoting safer alternatives.
There are certain gaps for all current approaches of controlling and monitoring POPs in articles and products (e.g. HS codes; GHS; MSDS, REACH) (see Annex 1 and Annex 2). Therefore it is recommended to assess how these gaps can be addressed and closed and how such an improvement can be implemented in practice. This effort should include guidance on disclosure of the presence of POPs in articles and products.
While industrial countries have developed some legislation to control chemicals in articles and products, such control is weak in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Therefore it is recommended to develop a guidance document which gives some support to develop or strengthen regulatory frames for the control of POPs in articles and products. This should include guidance on disclosure requirements, restrictions and prohibitions of POPs in articles and products, among other topics.
During the Rio+20 Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, a new international initiative to fast track a global transition to a green economy by harnessing the market-shifting power of government and local authority spending was launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners. Supported by over 30 governments and institutions, the International Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI) aims to scale-up the level of public spending flowing into goods and services that maximize environmental and social benefits.
The new SPP initiative seeks to back the worldwide implementation of sustainable public procurement by promoting a better understanding of its potential benefits and impacts and facilitating increased cooperation between key stakeholders.
UNEP has developed significant expertise and a successful track-record in implementing sustainable public procurement policies and action plans across 7 pilot countries in cooperation with the Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on SPP. This has allowed the accumulation of experience and know-how in regards to the design of SPP policies in emerging and developing countries.
Considering the challenges of developing countries and countries with transition economies with the end of life management of POPs and POPs-like chemicals, the use of chemicals in products should become a criterion for sustainable public procurement and support the global effort to move to products with sustainable alternative to POPs and other hazardous chemicals. The inclusion of chemicals in green public procurement is already mentioned in the Handbook on Green Public Procurement from the EU.
 Weber R, Aliyeva G, Vijgen J. (2013), The need for an integrated approach to the global challenge of POPs management. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 20, 1901-1906.
There is a vital need for more sustainable consumption patterns and an overall reduction of resource use. The overall reduction and avoidance of products containing hazardous chemicals is an alternative approach which should be promoted more frequently in particular in industrial countries in which levels of consumption are already far above a sustainable ecological footprint.
For certain product groups the question could be asked if an application is needed at all.