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POPs Waste

Persistent organic pollutants: Are you ready for it and how can CWS help?

The Environment Agency (EA) recently issued new guidance on how soft furnishings such as sofas and armchairs containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) should be managed. From what we've seen and heard at CWS it’s safe to say the updated guidance has not been met with much enthusiasm from the waste management sector.

So, what's happened?

The EA has written to all local authorities to issue the new guidance following an investigation that found significant levels of POPs in soft furnishings. Effective immediately, the new guidelines stated that such products should not be landfilled, mixed with waste streams containing non-POPs, or recycled. Essentially, this means leaving all POPs-affected seating to be treated at energy-from-waste (EFW) facilities.

What about EFW capacity?

One of the key issues industry has with the change in guidance is the separation of POPs and the lack of capacity to deal with this new waste stream. CWS believes there could be at least hundreds of thousands of tonnes each year of this rather problematic waste stream.

Before such waste can be treated at EFW facilities it requires shredding for operational and compliance reasons. The shredders already in operation across the UK are unlikely to comply with the new regulations set out by the EA, as it is difficult to guarantee that contaminated POPs waste and non-contaminated waste would be able to be kept separate. This would result in the requirement for additional shredding facilities – which of course need additional investment and development. The shredders alone cost around £500,000, not cheap.

How can CWS help? 

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Creative Waste Solutions' team have located and identified trusted POPs disposal sites that offer a cost effective and economical solution throughout the UK. We are also developing a HUB and spoke model for unprocessed POPs waste.

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