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New rules for putting upholstered furniture in your skip


New POPs Regulation Changes: Skip Hire No Longer Accepting Furniture

Following the new Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulation (POPs) by the Environment Agency, Fletchers Waste Management can no longer accept upholstered furniture in our skips. A new dedicated POPs recycling service has been created to manage this waste separately, which ensures we are adhering to the legal requirements of the EA.

Below is a full explanation of the new POPs regulation and how your skip hire service may be affected. 

What are POPs?

POPs are a class of chemical pollutants that are highly hazardous and are classed as a global threat to human health and the environment.

POPs substances are known to:

  • stay intact for many years;
  • be widely distributed in the environment far from the original source due to natural processes involving soil, water and air;
  • gather in living organisms, including humans, with higher concentrations in the food chain; and
  • be hazardous to both humans and wildlife.

Since 2004, the production and marketing of items containing POPs have been illegal. However, products are still circulating containing these hazardous chemicals. It is possible to test items to find the levels of POPs present, but the results are not always accurate or reliable.

What waste contains POPs?

Examples of items containing POPs, after an investigation by the Environment Agency, included household upholstered waste domestic seating. Upholstered furniture was found to contain large levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the seating textiles and foams.

Upholstered furniture is any household seating that may contain POPs, including but not limited to:

  • sofas,
  • sofa beds,
  • armchairs,
  • kitchen and dining room chairs,
  • stools and footstools,
  • home office chairs,
  • futons, 
  • bean bags, floor and sofa cushions.

Furniture that is part made of or contains leather, synthetic leather, other fabric or foam is also included in the guidance. The full guidance can be read on the Gov website.



White leather sofa
Upholstered old stool

There is also the possibility that POPs can be found in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). 

Examples include:

  • non-household office equipment, including printers and photocopiers;
  • printed circuit boards; and
  • flat panel displays that have plastic cases.

More information on WEEE waste containing POPs can be found by visiting the Gov Website.

What isn’t classed as domestic seating?

Items that are not considered ‘domestic seating’ in the guidance include furniture that is not upholstered, for example, a wooden chair without a cushioned or textile back, seat or arms, deckchairs, mattresses, curtains, blinds, beds and waste from the manufacture of new domestic seating that is known not to contain POPs. 

However, what the EA currently deem as domestic seating may change following further investigations, and it’s best to consult with your waste management company before putting furniture into your skip if you’re unsure.

How is POPs waste destroyed?

When disposing of waste containing POPs above certain concentration limits, the POPs content must be destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that it is no longer harmful. Therefore, it cannot be disposed of in landfills and must be incinerated.

If another waste is mixed with the POPs materials, the whole load must be treated as POPs waste and destroyed even if the mixing has diluted the POPs below the concentration limit.

How does the POPs waste regulation affect skip hire?

First, as stated above, waste mixed with POPs must also be treated as POPs contaminated waste. 

As a licensed waste management and collection company, this change in regulation means we’ve had to amend the way we collect, store and dispose of waste which may contain POPs. 

Because of this, upholstered furniture can now no longer be put into skips due to the risk of contamination with other waste. Instead, we have created a dedicated POPs recycling service where the waste can be compliantly brought to our facility via our man and van service. All waste must be upholstered furniture and cannot be mixed with other waste.

What can you do if your waste is assumed to contain POPs?

POPs can be collected via a man and van service, as long as this is the only waste being collected. 

If your upholstered furniture can be reused and is in good condition, it can be donated to others as long as the furniture is reused for the same purpose that it was initially designed. 

There must also be no damage to the furniture. This includes during transit or whilst in storage. If minor repairs are needed, the new owner must know about this before reusing it. 

After buying furniture, it has become second nature for most of us to remove all the labels that are attached. However, another condition that must be followed that ensures the use is lawful is that the furniture has appropriate fire safety labels attached.

If you’d like to discuss how the new regulation will affect your skip hire, please contact us at 0114 244 5006. If you have upholstered furniture to dispose of, please book our man and van service through the website and let us know the furniture you’d like to be collected in the notes section.