| Compliance

Updated guidance for waste upholstered domestic seating

Recent Environment Agency (EA) guidance states that all waste upholstered domestic seating must now be incinerated after tests found high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in seating textiles and foams. POPs are a major concern due to their toxic properties and ability to persist in the environment and accumulate in food chains. In doing so they can pose a significant risk to human health and the environment.

When the issue was first raised in 2021 it was widely expected that the issue of POPs would only affect around 30% of waste upholstered seating as most manufacturers stopped using these materials back in 2011. It appears however that the percentage is far higher than expected and now all furniture of this type, including sofas, sofa beds, armchairs, kitchen and dining room chairs, stools and footstools, home office chairs, futons, bean bags, floor, and sofa cushions must be incinerated or used as a waste derived fuel.

Whilst the new guidance does not completely prohibit the reuse and recycling of upholstered furniture there are specific conditions that must be met which include the item being used for the same purpose as it was designed and that the previous owner intended for it to be reused. No, or only minor, repairs are allowed and the furniture must not be handled in any way that would indicate it was waste e.g. placing it in a skip. Finally, its reuse must be lawful including having the necessary safety labeling.

Reconomy’s extensive network ensures that landlords and other waste producers can manage their waste-upholstered domestic seating in accordance with all current legislation and in line with the appropriate regulator’s guidance. In addition to 100% compliance, we will seek to optimise the environmental and commercial value of the waste we manage by reusing, recycling, and recovering as much of the material as possible. In doing so we support the development of more sustainable supply chains and facilitate the development of the circular economy.

The EA will undertake an assessment of compliance with the new guidance “across the sector” from 1 January 2023.