There are new rules for storage and disposal of upholstered furniture, including sofas, chairs and beanbags.
These changes follow guidance from the Environment Agency. They relate to the storage and disposal of waste upholstered domestic seating containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
- Items classified as waste upholstered domestic seating
- How to dispose of waste upholstered domestic seating
- More information
POPs are chemical substances that do not break down. If waste containing POPs is not managed responsibly, it could cause damage to the wider environment.
Councils must store the waste in a way that prevents damaging it, releasing POPs and contaminating with other waste. POPs waste must then be destroyed at an incinerator authorised to accept POPs waste.
For further information on this legislation, visit Manage waste upholstered domestic seating containing POPs (GOV.UK).
Items classified as waste upholstered domestic seating
Waste upholstered domestic seating includes:
- Sofas, sofa beds and armchairs.
- Upholstered kitchen and dining room chairs.
- Home office chairs.
- Stools and footstools.
- Bean bags, floor or sofa cushions.
This includes any part made of or containing leather, synthetic leather, other fabric, or foam.
Mattresses, curtains, blinds and beds are not domestic seating and are not affected by the new regulations. They can be disposed of in the general waste skips at any HWRC.
How to dispose of waste upholstered domestic seating
Waste upholstered domestic seating is accepted at the following three Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs):
Waste upholstered seating must ONLY go into the correct, designated skips. Do not put this type of waste into the general waste skip or into any other container. It must not be mixed with other waste.
Do not dispose of your unwanted upholstered domestic seating in your waste bin. The law requires that any waste upholstered domestic seating is kept intact and separate from all other waste.
Waste upholstered domestic seating should be kept whole where possible. Taking upholstered seating items apart increases the risk of releasing the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) into the environment. This increases your risk of being exposed to them.
Bulky waste collections
You can book a bulky waste collection to dispose of unwanted upholstered domestic seating.
The way that we collect bulky waste complies with the legislation. Items that may contain POPs that are damaged, ripped or torn should be covered with sheeting and secured with tape.
Seating in good condition can be offered for reuse. The potential for pollution and harm to the environment from POPs increases at the waste management and disposal phase. Therefore the regulations do not affect items that are reused.
Good quality upholstered seating can be accepted at the Revive re-use shop at Brighouse HWRC or by charities.
The items must meet conditions set out in law to ensure they are suitable for reuse. Make sure the item you are passing on is not damaged and has a fire safety label attached.
If you are buying second-hand seating, check that the item has a fire safety label attached. It should also be in good condition with no rips or tears. This increases the risk of exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Some retailers operate a take-back scheme. Check when purchasing a sofa or other upholstered seating.
Please check with individual retailers for details of their scheme. It is likely that take-back schemes will differ from company to company and there may be a small charge.
About Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that are known to stay intact and do not break down. Waste containing these must be managed responsibly. The have the potential to cause damage to human health and the wider environment.
The POPs found in waste upholstered domestic seating are usually as a result of a flame-retardant chemical. This chemical is called Decabromodiphenyl Ether (decaBDE). It has been banned since 2019 and is no longer used.
Some waste upholstered domestic seating has been found to contain levels of POPs above the legal limit. This must be managed responsibly.
How Calderdale Council is dealing with waste containing POPs
Waste upholstered domestic seating can be collected as bulky waste or brought into the HWRCs. It will be kept separate from other types of waste.
To store and dispose of POPs waste correctly, there are additional skips at Halifax, Brighouse and Todmorden HWRCs. These skips are solely for sofas, armchairs and other seating.
There is no space for a separate skip at Elland or Sowerby Bridge HWRCs. because of this these two sites can no longer accept upholstered seating.
Items collected as part of the bulky waste service will be kept intact and separate to other types of waste.
Any waste potentially containing POPs will be safely burnt to generate electricity. This ensures the chemicals are destroyed or transformed so they cannot be released into the wider environment.
How safe is the seating in your home?
The risk of exposure to POPs to the public from any upholstered domestic seating in the home is low.
The potential for pollution and harm increases at the waste management phase. This is when the items may become broken up or damaged ahead of disposal. This is why there are new procedures for how to manage this waste.
Any potential risk to health from exposure to chemicals in the home can be greatly reduced through good housekeeping. This includes regular vacuum cleaning and washing hands before meals. Also ensure any damage to upholstery is repaired as soon as possible.
Fire safety regulations
All domestic seating produced must meet stringent UK flammability tests that comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Any items purchased after 2019 will still meet the requirements of the Fire Safety regulations. The chemicals used in this process are not classified as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).