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Are UK MRF’s about to POP?!

The introduction of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) legislation on 1st January 2023 has been met with frustration from most of the industry.

From what we've seen and heard at CWS, the updated guidance has not been met with much enthusiasm from the waste management sector. Waste carriers are required to put in place separation and pre-treatment systems for POPs contaminated wastes by no later than December 2024.

How has this affected the industry?

Whilst the legislation appears to be straightforward, and most people agree that legislation is needed to control pollution, it feels like the UK waste industry has not been given adequate time to prepare for the operational and process changes required to be compliant.

Recycling waste containing POPs

You must not recycle or reuse any waste that contains POPs. The POPs must be destroyed. This means you cannot:

  • turn the waste into a product for reuse

  • remove materials or components containing POPs for reuse

Sorting and storing POPs waste safely and securely

You must take all reasonable steps to avoid mixing POPs waste with other waste during storage, collection and treatment. If you do mix, you must manage the whole load as POPs waste. You must destroy the POPs even if the mixing has diluted the POPs to below the concentration limit.

Recovering waste containing POPs

You can recover waste containing POPs where the recovery process destroys the POP. For example, incineration with energy recovery.

The costs involved

One of the challenges is around costs and gate fee pricing in the UK, prices are varying from £170-£350 per tonne (lower for processed to higher for un-processed) and we believe that the higher costs are unsustainable. Prices are being driven by incinerators leading to a regional fluctuation and it could take several months before we see a levelling out/consistency in pricing.

A survey of Larac members found that two-thirds expected compliance to increase costs, while 55% felt they would be unable to comply by the deadline.

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 assist and help out?

The Creative Waste Solutions team have procured 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. We have sourced temporary storage for both processed and unprocessed POPs that are ready for incineration.

If you'd like to know more or you're looking for help with your POPs waste please give us a call or contact us using the link below and our team will be more than happy to help!


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