Essex launches ‘£6.8m’ tender for POPs waste

Essex county council has launched a tender for a contractor to process an estimated 6,500 tonnes a year of waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Essex needed to find a new outlet for upholstered seating following new EA rules

In a contract notice published yesterday, 12 April, the council explained that it is seeking a contractor for an initial one-year term, with a possible five-year extension. It is thought likely that the material will go for incineration, which is what happens currently.

The council valued a likely deal at £1.14 million a year, worth £6.8 million over the full six years. This equates to around £175 a tonne to deal with the waste.


After an investigation found large levels of POPs in seating textiles and foams, the Environment Agency last year issued instructions that waste upholstered domestic seating must be sent for incineration rather than landfill and cannot be mixed with non-POPs waste (see letsrecycle.com story).

The correct treatment of waste upholstered domestic seating such as sofas, armchairs and beanbags includes segregating the material, describing and classifying it correctly and sending it for destruction in a municipal or hazardous waste incinerator or cement kiln.

This came into effect from 1 January 2023, which meant councils such as Essex who rely on landfill for the majority of waste disposal were worst hit.

Essex does separately collect POPs waste at its recycling centres. Essex explained to letsrecycle.com that its existing contract with an unnamed contractor to process POPs waste through incineration is coming to an end in June.

We require a contractor to process POPs from upholstered domestic seating waste

  • Essex county council 


In the notice, the council explained that the contract could change if the Agency decides to change its guidance again. The notice read: “We require a contractor to process POPs from upholstered domestic seating waste that may contain POPs, and other POPs containing wastes from that may arise as a result of changes to the Environment Agency guidance or laws.”

This will be collected from across the authority’s network of recycling centres and other collection points including waste collection authority depots as required.

The contractor will be required to provide safe disposal services for POPs delivered by the authority or its agents and may, where requested, be required to provide collection containers and transport services to the disposal points.

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