Skip to main content

The Environment Agency has issued revised guidelines regarding the disposal of soft furnishings, such as sofas, armchairs, and other items, potentially containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These guidelines emphasize the need for specialized handling and disposal methods due to the presence of significant POP levels in these products. Here’s an overview of the latest regulations and how they impact the management of such furnishings.


  1. Affected Materials:

Materials that may contain POPs include a wide range of soft furnishings, including sofas, sofa beds, armchairs, kitchen/dining room chairs, stools, footstools, office chairs, futons, bean bags, floor and sofa cushions. This also includes any part of these furnishings that contains leather, synthetic leather, fabric, or foam materials.

  1. Proper Management:

To adhere to the updated guidelines, any soft furnishings identified as potentially containing POPs must be managed as follows:

  • Identification and Segregation: Identify and segregate these items at the source of disposal.
  • Proper Description: These furnishings must be described as ‘domestic seating containing POPs’ and classified under the EWC Code 20 03 07.
  • Separate Waste Stream: Ensure that waste containing POPs is not mixed with other waste streams. It should be managed as a separate waste stream.
  • Waste Transfer Note: When moving the waste, the relevant chemicals present in the furnishings (e.g., DecaBDE, HBCDD, PentaBDE, TetraBDE) must be listed on the Waste Transfer Note.
  • Prevention of Damage and Contamination: Store and handle waste containing POPs in a manner that prevents damage, release of POPs, or contamination with other waste.
  • Avoid Mixing: Waste containing POPs must not be mixed with any other waste during production, storage, collection, and treatment, including within a skip.
  1. Implications of Mixing with Non-POPs Waste:

If soft furnishings containing POPs are mixed with non-POPs waste, the entire load will be classified as POPs waste (20 03 07). This could result in higher disposal charges due to the potential for contamination. Contamination can occur when components like foam, cover, lining, or wadding materials are released from the items.

  1. Exemptions: Certain items are exempt from these regulations and are not considered to contain POPs:
  • Items that are not upholstered, such as wooden chairs without cushions or chairs with textile backs.
  • Deckchairs.
  • Waste generated during the manufacturing of new domestic seating that the manufacturer can demonstrate does not contain POPs.
  1. Next Steps:

If you need to dispose of soft furnishings potentially containing POPs, please contact WasteSURE at 0333 301 0705 for guidance on proper disposal procedures. Please note that mattresses, curtains, blinds, and beds are not covered by these guidelines.

Background: Chemical flame retardants like DecaBDE were commonly used in soft furnishings until restrictions under the Stockholm Convention led to their phased-out use starting in 2006. The chemical was eventually banned from all upholstered furniture in 2019.

Ready to change the way you manage your waste? Contact WasteSURE today to see how we do things differently

Contact us

Author Vijendra

More posts by Vijendra