Despite being in place for many years, many of you will have never heard of POPs. However, one thing is for certain – this will impact every home in the UK, so to help you be prepared HIPPO will lay out the basics.
Just what are POPs?
To use their full name, they are Persistent Organic Pollutants and as the name suggests they can remain in the environment for considerable periods of time. Whilst there, they can accumulate in living organisms, ending up in the food chain, causing long term negative effects on our health and the wider environment. In short, unpleasant and unwelcome.
So what contains POPs?
The manufacture, sale and use of any product containing POPs is banned. In fact, here in the UK, manufacturers phased out their use between 2002 and 2011. Imports however still contained POPs until 2019.
You will find POPs in upholstered seating (that includes sofas, armchairs, upholstered dining and office chairs). Usually POPs come from the use of a flame retardant chemical with the catchy name decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). The majority of soft furnishings in your home will have fire retardants applied to them in order to meet Fire Safety Standards. Any soft furnishings purchased new after 2019 should not contain fire retardants that contain POPs.
However, the new persistent organic pollutants legislation demands all soft furnishings are segregated at point of disposal. This is to guarantee all items with potential to contain POPs are safely destroyed and the only way to do this is through incineration. Soft furnishings are banned from any other form of disposal, including recycling or landfill, to contain any long term environmental harm.
The typical list of persistent organic pollutants examples looks like this:
- Sofa beds
- Upholstered dining chairs and office chairs
- Floor cushions
- Upholstered stools and foot stools
What can I do to protect the environment?
Everyone can play a part in ensuring these chemicals never make it into our environment, our wildlife and our food chain. It’s not as hard as it may first seem – we promise.
The first thing to do is ask whether you even need to throw your items away.
Rather oddly for a company that makes its money from disposing of waste, our number one recommendation is to not throw it away at all. If you have any of the items above and they are in a good condition why don’t you see if anyone else can benefit from having them. This could be other individuals, families or charities that specialise in reuse of unwanted furniture. You will all have heard of various websites or social groups where you can sell or give away your furniture – we’d advise you to make use of them.
There are some amazing charities out there that would be very thankful for items in good condition. They can either be sold on, raising much needed funds for great causes or placed directly in the homes of those who need it most. Reach out to national charities like the British Heart Foundation or maybe a local organisation and arrange a pick-up when they are in your area.
We are sure you’ll feel a lot better knowing that your things have avoided the incinerator!
The last option – disposal
Most councils will have facilities to dispose of soft furnishings either via your local tip (Household Waste Recycling Centre) or a kerbside bulky waste collection. We would strongly recommend you investigate the rules for your local council – there are likely to be a few requirements that you will need to follow. There is likely to be a small fee applied and you may have noticed costs for the disposal of various items creeping into your local area and POPs disposal is no different – sorry.
Your final option is commercial businesses like HIPPO. With 21 years of expertise and hundreds of fully vetted disposal partners then we will be able to provide you with a costed solution, including for your POPs item and ensure it is disposed of with all the care you would expect.
There are many other reputable companies out there but unfortunately there are a few cowboys. Do your research and have the peace of mind your old sofa won’t end up being fly tipped in a country lane nearby. No-one wants to see that.
We hope that helped!
POPs is a significant issue across the UK but HIPPO and the entire waste industry is committed to the highest of standards protecting our environment, wildlife and you. If you have any questions about the disposal of your soft furnishings then don’t be afraid to pick up the phone – we’ll be happy to help.