Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Bulky Waste

In September 2022, the Environment Agency (EA) issued guidance to waste site operators about changes coming into force regarding Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in bulky waste.  The new EA guidance states that from 31st December 2022, all waste that does, or may, contain POPs, such as bulky waste, can no longer be sent to landfill and must be sent for incineration.

Eunomia can help waste site operators ensure that they comply with the new requirements.

What are POPs?

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are synthetic, toxic chemicals, which do not readily degrade in the environment, are easily soluble in fat and accumulate as they move up through the food chain, having an adverse effect on human and animal health.

POPs can be found in industrial applications and pesticides, but the most common municipal waste that contains POPs is soft furnishings, such as armchairs, sofas and other domestic seating, which form part of municipal bulk waste. POPs can be found in the fire-resistant chemicals used in the foam, covers and linings. While most UK manufacturers stopped using fire retardants that contain POPs by 2011, some imported furniture continued to employ these chemicals until 2019.

What does this mean for waste sites?

Bulky waste that contains fabric, padding or foam must be treated as though it contains POPs, unless it can be proven not to. Such material must be incinerated, not landfilled.

Waste operators are likely to need to:

  • segregate bulky items known or assumed to contain POPs from those that don’t (if they are to be treated differently);
  • segregate POPs-containing items for reuse from those destined for disposal from the point of collection;
  • ensure site operatives are trained in the new measures, including identifying POPs-containing wastes;
  • revise transport arrangements to ensure damaged, POPs-containing waste cannot contaminate the rest of the load;
  • adjust site layout to accommodate sorting and storage areas for POPs-containing wastes;
  • understand the requirements for pre-treatment prior to incineration;
  • source a contract for incineration if waste is currently landfilled;
  • increase demand on services and outlets for the destruction of POPs-containing wastes; and
  • make administrative changes, such as changes to waste transfer paperwork.

How can Eunomia help?

With a wealth of experience in waste operations, from permitting to procurement, we understand how even seemingly small changes to guidance and legislation can affect waste sites and their operations. We understand the concerns you may have regarding the new POPs guidance and can assist with a variety of services to help you comply with these changes. These include:

  • operational and management system review to identify areas for change to improve compliance;
  • environmental permitting, including changes to the permit and compliance with associated legislation, such as Fire Prevention Plan guidance;
  • site design work to amend your current operations and achieve compliance for POPs;
  • providing advice on suitable outlets for waste containing POPs; and
  • providing guidance and support through the procurement of waste contracts.

If you want to talk about how these changes may impact your operations, and how we can help, please give us a call we’ll be happy to talk about how we can support.

For more information on services we offer, please visit our Waste services page.