The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (the Stockholm Convention) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
POPs are pesticide and industrial chemicals that are persistent in the environment, bioaccumulate in organisms, are toxic to human health and the environment, and are transported long distances.
Exposure to POPs can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damages to the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Given their long range transport, no one government acting alone can protect its citizens or its environment from POPs.
The Stockholm Convention
In response to the global problem of POPs, the Stockholm Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. Australia ratified the Stockholm Convention on 20 May 2004 and become a Party on 18 August 2004.
The Stockholm Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. Control measures apply to import, export, production, disposal and use of POPs. Parties are also required to promote the best available techniques and best environmental practices for replacing POPs while preventing the production and use of new ones.
The annexes of the Stockholm Convention list the full list chemicals subject to international trade controls.
Australia does not automatically adopt controls for chemicals listed in the Stockholm Convention. Each chemical must be separately ratified by the Australian parliament following inclusion in the annexes. The lists of chemicals relevant to Australia may be found in Schedule 2 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and Schedule 9 of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulation 1958.
Production and use
The production and use of chemicals subject to the Stockholm Convention is absolutely prohibited, except as allowed under specific exemptions or acceptable purposes under the convention. This includes products containing the chemical as an ingredient.
International trade in Stockholm Convention listed chemicals
The import and export of chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention is prohibited, except with written permission from an authorised officer of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in the following circumstances:
- for environmentally sound disposal
- for quantities to be used in laboratory-scale research or as reference standards.
Applications for permission to import or export chemicals controlled under the Stockholm Convention must be made using the online permit application system.
Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 a person must not import, manufacture, use or export an active constituent for a proposed or existing chemical product or a chemical product in contravention of a condition or restriction prescribed by a regulation. A penalty of 300 penalty units may apply.
Under the Customs Act 1901 a person commits and offence if a person engages in conduct contravening the conditions or requirements of their license or permit. A penalty of Imprisonment for 2 years or 20 penalty units, or both may apply.
Receiving permission from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment does not replace any requirement for permission from other authorities, including from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Further information can be found on the Stockholm Convention website.
Inquiries can be directed to:
Agvet Chemicals International and Domestic Policy Section
Agvet Chemicals and Forestry Branch
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
CANBERRA ACT 2601