26 May 2024, 03:35
By Furniture News Jan 03, 2023

New legislation prevents dumping of certain upholstered furnishings

This year, the Environment Agency has introduced new legislation which prevents the disposal of end-of-life upholstered furniture in general waste or landfill sites, and is applicable to both businesses and domestic scenarios.

According to the Environment Agency, upholstered sofas, footstools, sofabeds, office chairs, futons, beanbags, bar stools, chairs and armchairs should be treated as hazardous waste, and cannot be recycled, reused or repurposed, but must be safely disposed of through incineration – unless it can be demonstrated that they are free from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which have long been absent from many UK-manufactured soft furnishings due to preventative legislation in 2011. Deckchairs, mattresses, beds, curtains and blinds are also unaffected.

"Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) remain intact in the environment for long periods, and if not disposed of properly become widely distributed geographically," states the Environment Agency. "They accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife and have harmful impacts on human health and on the environment.

"The Environment Agency has undertaken an investigation and confirmed the widespread presence of very large quantities of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and other hazardous chemicals in both the textiles and foam of upholstered domestic seating. The law requires that POPs in waste are destroyed to prevent lasting environmental harm and impacts on the food chain. This means waste containing POPs must be incinerated and must not be reused, recycled or landfilled."

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) says it intends to follow the agency’s lead.

Industry experts quizzed by Furniture News believe that the industry's steady move away from POP use means most businesses need not be concerned, while the implication is that end-of-use products will go to energy recovery, which is preferable to landfill.

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