The Environment Agency has brought in new legislation which requires waste disposal companies and household recycling centres to dispose of all unwanted upholstery frames, fillings materials and fabrics without going to landfill.
The aim is to safely dispose of potentially hazardous Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), present in upholstered furnishings as well as some plastic and electronic items.
Sometimes known as ‘forever chemicals’ POPs are organic chemical substances with toxic properties that can have a long-lasting impact on environmental and human health if not managed correctly during the waste disposal process. Under the new rules, this is the responsibility of waste disposal companies but is likely to have an effect on all upholsterers and soft furnishers in the future. Going forward, disposal companies are likely to ask for all unwanted upholstery frames, filling materials and fabrics to be separated from general waste in bags that identify them as ‘May Contains POPs’. Failure to do so may result in a refusal to accept waste. It is also illegal for anyone other than an approved and licensed waste disposal company to burn or incinerate this material. At the moment the waste disposal companies are still organising their systems, but because of the additional work this involves, they are likely to pass the extra costs on to us.
According to the Environment Agency, upholstered sofas, footstools, sofa beds, office chairs, futons, bean bags, barstools, chairs, armchairs and the fillings contained within them should be treated as hazardous waste and cannot be recycled, reused or repurposed. This does not mean that you can no longer reupholster furniture, but it does mean that any filling materials cannot be reused in any other piece of furniture and must be safely disposed of through licensed waste disposal companies unless it can be demonstrated they are free from POPs. It’s really important that upholsterers and soft furnishers are familiar with the new rules – but not phased by them! It’s always wise to be aware of a change to legislation that so directly affects our sector. For more information visit: