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J&B News & Updates

Persistent Organic Pollutants upholstery

Changes in Disposal of Upholstered Items - Persistent Organic Pollutants

04.01.23 | Regulatory Updates

We would like to make our customers aware that changes are being enforced by the Environment Agency (EA) concerning the disposal of domestic seating waste and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The EA has undertaken an investigation nationally and confirmed the widespread presence of POPs, used as flame retardants, in both textiles and foam of upholstered domestic seating. They state that POPs remain intact in the environment for long periods and can accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife and have harmful impacts on health and the environment. The impact of this is that such waste containing POPs must be incinerated and must not be reused, recycled or landfilled.

On 19/12/2022 the Government confirmed the regulatory position that all waste textiles and foam in upholstered domestic seating that contain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are banned from landfill and must be incinerated. All UK landfill sites have been instructed to refuse these materials from 31st December 2022 and there will be greater enforcement over the compliant handling and disposal of these items.

Waste domestic seating includes any item of seating of a household type from both households and businesses that is waste such as, but not limited to, sofas, sofa beds, armchairs, dining chairs, office chairs, beanbags and sofa cushions. Upholstered items of this seating means any part containing leather, synthetic leather, other fabric and foam.

Please note mattresses are not currently classed as above and do not fall under the POPs legislation, so there is no need to change how these are handled or disposed of at present.

For all items of domestic seating that is upholstered it must be assumed that the upholstery contains POPs unless it has been scientifically analysed to prove otherwise. More information on how to identify if the waste you are producing contains POPs, and what to do about it, can be found on the UK Government website here.

In addition the updated position statements issued on the 19/12/2022 can be found here:

What does this mean to you as someone who may dispose of upholstered domestic seating, or upholstered parts such as fabric or foam removed from domestic seating?

You must take all reasonable steps to avoid mixing upholstered items with other waste during collection. These can be collected on the same vehicle with other waste for disposal but you must keep them separate to remove the risk of contamination. If such items are collected in a skip with other waste it must be demonstrated that they have not contaminated the other waste. Such contamination may occur if the upholstered item is damaged or the fabric, foam, wadding etc. has been released or separated from metal or wooden parts etc.

J&B has to keep upholstered items separate to other wastes we receive and send them to an Energy from Waste facility (EfW) for incineration. In order to do this we have to break up or shred the items via a separate process to other wastes, to make them suitable for transport to and incineration by the EfW plant, so as to optimise both haulage and combustion. This process will be carried out at our licenced facility in Middlesbrough; therefore any such upholstered items or parts of such we receive at our Hartlepool site will need to be transported by us to our Middlesbrough site for processing.

We will continue to keep all our customers compliant in all aspects of legislation that relate to the services we provide. You can be assured we will continue to provide you with a first class service as we continue our relationship. If you have any questions relating to this, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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