Environment Agency publishes POPs regulatory position statements

The Environment Agency (EA) has published three regulatory position statements regarding the handling and treatment of soft furnishings containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The EA has published three regulatory position statements (RPS) regarding the handling and treatment of soft furnishings containing POPs after the EA announced in August that soft furnishings potentially contaminated with POPs must be sent for incineration.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are present in upholstered soft furnishings as well as some plastic and electronic items.

From seating textiles and foams to washing machines and e-cigarettes, POPs can be found in many of today’s ‘everyday items’, and it’s an issue that the Government, local authorities, and waste operators across the country are having to deal with.

POPs – also sometimes known as ‘forever chemicals’ – are organic chemical substances with toxic properties, and they can be found in many waste streams, including some electronic waste.

Due to these substances’ specific physical and chemical properties, POPs can have a long-lasting impact on environmental and human health if not managed correctly during the waste disposal process.

Government guidance says that operators must ensure waste containing POPs is disposed of at an authorised site or “irreversibly transformed” using one of the permitted compliant methods.

The recently RPS documents published outline the EA’s enforcement position for shredding, segregating at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), and temporary storage.

For the full RPS, click here.

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