POPs guidance sparks reuse plea in Dorset

Dorset council has urged residents to consider donating their old sofas for reuse instead of disposing of them as waste at recycling centres, in light of Environment Agency guidance on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 

Dorset council is “strongly encouraging” residents to consider reuse to avoid incineration if their old sofa isn't damaged (picture: Shutterstock)

Under Agency guidance, effective from 1 January 2023, items such as sofas, sofa beds, armchairs, kitchen and dining room chairs and futons must now be sent for incineration rather than landfill and cannot be mixed with non-POPs waste (see letsrecycle.com story).

This applies to all items disposed of as waste. However, those designated for reuse do not have to be incinerated, providing they meet a number of stipulations set by the Agency.


While Dorset has made changes to its HWRC network to separate soft furnishing, the council is “strongly encouraging” residents to consider reuse before they arrive.

Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset council’s portfolio holder for culture, communities and customer services, said: “The basic principles remain the same. If your old furniture cannot be reused, please bring it to a household recycling centre where it will be safely disposed of free of charge. If you need someone to dispose of it for you, be very careful who you are handing it to.”

The local authority has outlined that there are a range of furniture reuse groups across Dorset that collect unwanted furniture, one being Dorset Reclaim, a furniture reuse project that offers locally donated electrical and household goods.


Elsewhere, Wiltshire council has also announced how it intends to comply with the new regulations.

“Residents will see new bins at Wiltshire’s HWRCs allocated for the separate disposal of upholstered domestic seating, such as sofas, armchairs, and home office chairs,” the council said. It added that waste upholstered seating collected through the council’s large item collection service will also be managed in accordance with the new guidance.

Cllr Nick Holder, Wiltshire council cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “These new requirements have been introduced to protect our environment and it’s important we comply.

The Environment Agency found that old upholstered domestic seating contains persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are harmful to the environment and human health

“Through our actions we’ll mitigate the environmental impacts of POPs locally and ensure that we continue to deliver on our business plan priority of Wiltshire being a place where we all take responsibility for the environment, while reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.”


One concern is that charities and other reuse organisations could pick up the cost of disposal, if items they receive are not reusable.

Nadiya Catel-Arutyunova is sustainability policy adviser at the BRC, the trade association for UK retail businesses. She told letsrecycle.com that the updated guidance from the Environment Agency regarding POPs in old upholstered domestic seating has been given to retailers at very short notice.

“Customers old products will now be classified as hazardous waste and will incur a higher disposal fee to be incinerated. This goes against efforts to improve recycling,” she said.

Ms Catel-Arutyunova added: “It might lead to an increase in exporting domestic waste as the UK has limited capacity to incinerate items and it also could lead to an increase in household fly tipping.”


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