POPs – what are they, why comply and how TJ can help…

POPs have been widely mentioned in the news over the past six months, but what actually are POPs, why is it so important to comply with the new rules and what are the consequences if we don’t?

What are POPs?

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are highly hazardous chemical pollutants that present a serious global threat to human health and to ecosystems. POPs are substances that specifically:

  • remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time
  • become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air
  • accumulate in living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain
  • are toxic to both humans and wildlife

Historically POPs were used in the manufacture of upholstered domestic seating such as sofas, armchairs and dining chairs – specifically any furniture that has been made using foam padding or textiles.

Whilst many manufacturers stopped using materials that contained POPs between 2002 and 2011, there are concerns that imported furniture may have contained offending chemicals as late as 2019. 

As the cost of checking if seating contains POPs prior to disposal would prove inhibitive, the advice is that all upholstered domestic seating should be incinerated as a precautionary measure. Check out the gov.uk website for further information.

What are the rules?

In August 2022, the Environment Agency issued a letter directly to local authorities advising on legal requirements for the collection and disposal of upholstered domestic seating, due to the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in both the textiles and foam found in this type of waste. 

The advice stated that from 1st January 2023, upholstered domestic seating containing POPs must not be:

  • Landfilled
  • Mixed with other non-POPs containing wastes
  • Re-used or recycled

Why is it vital to comply?

Legal implications
In the UK, the use, production and release of POPs are regulated under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. As a party to the Stockholm Convention, the UK is obligated to implement the Convention’s provisions in its domestic legislation, which includes implementing strict measures for their disposal.

Violations of these regulations and measures are enforceable by law in the UK. Established regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, and DEFRA enforce these regulations and will prosecute individuals or companies that violate them. Therefore, any individual or company found to be in violation of the POPs regulations could face legal action and penalties.

Health and environmental implications
POPs come in the form of pesticides and industrial chemicals and some are formed during certain combustion and chemical industry processes. They are widely present in the environment throughout the world. Everyone carries some POPs in their fatty tissues, as do most forms of wildlife.

POPs in the environment pollute the everyday food supply, especially fish, meat, butter and cheese. There is good medical evidence linking human illnesses and disabilities including some cancers, neurological disorders, immune suppression and reproduction disorders to POPs and this is why it is absolutely vital to minimise POPs contamination in any way we can.

How we can help 

Our Man and Van provision provides a number of services which are undertaken by our fleet of 7.5 tonne box vans and accompanying TJ drivers. These services include site clearance, office recycling collections, fridge collections and mattress collections.

We’re now pleased to add POPs collections to this list of services! Upon booking, we will arrive at your property on the agreed date to collect your unwanted sofa, armchairs or dining chairs – in short, any upholstered domestic seating – load them into our vans and transport them for incineration as per the guidelines.

Trust TJ… 

  • We’re a responsible waste carrier with a great reputation. We’ve been operating for almost 30 years and we’re known as Number 1 on the south coast. We take our responsibilities seriously and always ensure that whatever waste we are handling, it is directed down the most appropriate routes for its type. Diverting as much waste as possible from landfill is one of our top priorities.
  • We will provide you with a Waste Transfer Note shortly after your collection. This is your peace of mind that your items have been disposed of in the correct way and evidence for your records.

  • Incineration is the only way to dispose of this seating. We have established partnerships with a number of incineration sites so you can rest assured that your old sofas and seating is being correctly disposed of.

  • We understand the importance of compliance in all areas of waste disposal and are keen to help you do the right thing too.

  • We can offer collection as quickly as the next working day if needed, subject to availability. Otherwise, collections can be booked on a day and time convenient to you.

Find out more about our Man and Van Service or contact us for a quote or discuss further with one of our helpful team members.


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