New Legislation: Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs) within Domestic Seating

The Environment Agency issued new legislation on 1st January 2023 on the storage and disposal of waste domestic seating that contains Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPS). Waste domestic seating that contain POPs can no longer be sent to landfill but must be incinerated instead. Operating as a House Clearance Company in Cornwall this is legislation that we adhere to and as an environmentally friendly house clearance team we recycle as much as we possibly can. Everyone should be aware that recycling facilities will now need to segregate these items to ensure they are incinerated, unfortunately this may come at an additional cost to businesses and members of the public.

Storage and disposal of waste upholstered sofas are affected by the new rules

What are Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPS) and why have the new rules come into effect?

Persistant Organic Pollutants are hazardous chemicals that remain intact for a long time and are dangerous to human health and our planet’s ecosystems. They have the ability to become geographically wide spread and have been linked to disease and decline of wildlife species, accumulating in the food chain. POPs are a toxic group and known as ‘forever chemicals’ due to their resistance to degradation. POPS can includes pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), industrial chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls and terphenyls (PCBs/PCTs), and unintentional by-products of industrial processes, for example dioxins and furans. Items such as upholstered sofas often contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers. The Environment Agency has released new guidance into the disposal and storage of waste upholstered domestic seating to halt the environmental harm and impacts on the food chain.

What does the new legislation apply to?

The new legislation applies to upholstered domestic seating at the end of it’s life from homes and businesses such as:

  • Sofas and Armchairs
  • Sofa Beds and Futons
  • Dining Chairs and Kitchen Chairs
  • Stools, Bar Stools and Pouffes
  • Home Office Chairs and Computer Chairs
  • Bean Bags and Floor Cushions
  • Sofa Cushions

It also covers all items with any part made of or containing leather, synthetic leather, other fabric or foam.

The following items of domestic seating are unlikely to contain POPs:

  • Items that are not upholstered, without cushions.
  • Deckchairs
  • Wastes from manufacturing new domestic seating (and the manufacturer can demonstrate do not to contain POPs)
  • Mattresses, curtains, blinds and beds are not domestic seating and are not covered by this guidance.

POPs may also be found in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) which may include:

  • Office equipment – non-household types such as photocopiers and printers
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Cables and granulated cable plastics
  • Plastic cases from display devices (flat panel displays and cathode ray tubes)

For more details on WEEE that may contain POPs please visit the .gov website.


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