Legislation update: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
New legislation from the Environment Agency came into effect on 23 January 2023 regarding the storage and disposal of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
The legislation affects Forge Recycling as a waste management company and you as a customer disposing of waste.
POPs regulations have been in place in the UK since 2007, with UK manufacturers ceasing the use of these pollutants in production between 2002 and 2011.
Unfortunately, imported products could contain these chemicals until as recently as 2019.
We’ve created this page to deliver all you need to know about POPs — what they are, what waste products contain them, and how you need to deal with them from now on.
What are persistent organic pollutants?
POPs are poisonous chemical substances that don’t break down in the environment.
When disposing of waste containing POPs in landfill, the chemicals leach into waterways and enter food chains — making them a danger to the environment and human health.
As a result of this knowledge, the manufacture and sale of anything containing POPs are now banned in the UK.
What waste contains persistent organic pollutants?
In agricultural and industrial settings of the recent past, POPs were included in pesticides and chemicals.
Persistent organic pollutants were also used in the manufacture of soft furnishings.
Waste domestic seating is being targeted by the new POPs legislation, which can be any upholstered domestic seating — in the home or workspace.
Examples of upholstered domestic seating are:
- sofa cushions
- sofa beds
- kitchen and dining room chairs
- stools and footstools
- home office chairs
- bean bags
The above also includes parts containing leather, synthetic leather, other fabric, or foam.
The following items of domestic seating are unlikely to contain POPs:
- Items that are not upholstered, such as a wooden chair without a cushioned or textile back, seat, or arms.
- Waste from manufacturing new domestic seating that the manufacturer can demonstrate does not contain POPs.
Mattresses, blinds, beds and curtains are not classed as domestic seating and are not covered by the new guidance.
What to do if your waste contains persistent organic pollutants
POPs are no longer allowed to be disposed of in a landfill or recycled — they must be incinerated.
Suppose you need to dispose of waste containing POPs in a Forge skip or via our waste clearance service. In that case, you will need to contact us directly to let us know you intend to dispose of POPs waste.
This waste type will impact the cost of your skip hire or waste collection, so we’ll give you a quote when you call us.
All waste transfer notes must clearly state if POPs are present because waste containing POPs must be dealt with separately from other waste streams.
What to do if you’re unsure if your waste contains persistent organic pollutants
A material data sheet or importation document may be able to prove the absence of POPs.
If it is not known explicitly whether your soft furnishing waste contains POPs, we must assume that it does and the waste treated accordingly.
Examples of persistent organic pollutants
There may be a label on your waste. In this case, it could help to know what you are checking for.
Here are some chemicals that fall under the POPs umbrella:
- Tetrabromodiphenyl ether
- Pentabromodiphenyl ether
- Hexabromodiphenyl ether
- Heptabromodiphenyl ether
- Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and PFOS derivatives
- Bis(pentabromophenyl) ether (decabromodiphenyl ether, decaBDE)
- Hexachlorocyclohexanes, including lindane
- Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
- Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds
- Alkanes C10-C13, chloro (short-chain chlorinated paraffins) (SCCPs)
- Polychlorinated naphthalenes
If you have any questions about the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) legislation, please don't hesitate to get in touch.