Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

In the UK, the Environment Agency brought new legislation into effect from 1 January 2023 for the storage and disposal of POPs waste. From this date upholstered furniture cannot be safely disposed of in landfill sites. Further information is also available from the SEPA website here.

POPs are chemical substances that don’t break down and can be harmful to humans and the environment. They also spread easily via air, water, and wildlife. The main types of POPs waste include upholstered domestic seating (armchairs, sofas, and office chairs) and electrical devices and components.

POPs remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment.

Examples of POPs

Some of the most common examples of POPs waste found in homes and businesses include upholstered domestic seating. POPs may be present in any parts that contain or are made of leather, synthetic leather, fabric, or foam. Often, they’re in the back of the covers and in the foam, which may contaminate any lining and wadding in contact with it.

Common examples of upholstered seating that may contain POPs are:

  • Sofas, sofa beds, and futons
  • Armchairs
  • Kitchen and dining room chairs
  • Stools and footstools
  • Home office chairs
  • Bean bags, floor and sofa cushions
  • Furniture disposal and recycling

How does this affect waste management?

A lot of furniture manufacturers in the UK stopped using POPs in their products in 2011, but unless it can be proven otherwise, all upholstered furniture waste must be assumed to contain POPs.

Any waste containing POPs must be incinerated and never reused, recycled, or landfilled.

 As a result, all skip hire and waste companies including ourselves have started charging for the disposal of any waste that is classified under POP’s as a single item when as part of a mixed load.

Please let us know if you will be disposing of any waste that falls under the POP’s category, if you’re not sure then don’t hesitate to ask. We are here to help!