How to Dispose of Upholstered Seating?

Upholstered Seating

On 19 December 2022 the Environment Agency published new guidance in relation to management of waste upholstered domestic seating containing POPS. This new set of guidance will change the way we discard of upholstered furniture.

We can no longer take sofas, arm chairs or upholstered dinning chairs to the local tip. This new legislation will also prevent you from placing sofas and other upholstered seating into a hired skip. Due to this waste type now being classified as hazardous it must be disposed of in a specialised way.

In this article we look at: 

  • What are POPs?

  • What are examples of POPs?

  • What type of furniture waste may contain POPs?

  • What POPs are in domestic seating and furniture?

  • How should upholstered seating waste be sorted and stored?

  • Can I separate POP containing waste from other waste?

  • How can I see if waste contains POPs?

  • How can I dispose of domestic seating containing POPs?

  • Will landfill accept upholstered seating?

What are POPs?

Firstly, what does POPs mean and what does it stand for? POPs stands for persistent organic pollutant and is a term to describe a collection of chemicals and materials. These substances do not break down in the environment and can be a danger to human health and the environment. 

What are Examples of POPs?

Some examples of POPs are listed below:

  • Aldrin 

  • Alkanes C10 - C13

  • Chloradine 

  • Dieldrin

  • Endosulfan 

Full list can be found here 

What Type of Furniture Waste may Contain POPs?

Any waste seating that is upholstered will more than likely qualify under the new guidance, due to the presence of POPs. 

Examples would include: 

  • Sofa

  • Sofa Beds

  • Arm Chairs

  • Kitchen Chairs

  • Dinning Room Chairs

  • Stools

  • Foot Stools 

  • Home Office Chairs

  • Futons 

  • Bean Bags, Floor and Sofa Cushions 

This includes any part contains leather, synthetic leather or foam

What POPs are in Domestic Seating and Furniture?

Upholstered seating commonly contains one of the following POPs:

  • decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) – the most common

  • hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)

  • pentabromodiphenyl ether (PentaBDE)

  • tetrabromodiphenyl ether (TetraBDE)

These POPs are found on the back covers, in the foam, they can contaminate the lining and wadding.

How Should Upholstered Seating Waste be Sorted and Stored?

The seating must be sorted and stored whereby, you are not damaging it, releasing the POPs or contaminating other waste. POP containing waste should not be mixed with other waste during production, storage, collection or treatment. This includes in a skip or bay station at a household recycling centre. 

Upholstered seating waste can be collected on the same vehicle as other waste but the waste must not mix, the POP must not contaminate the other waste and it must be separated when taken off the vehicle. 

Can I Separate POP Containing Waste from Other Waste?

You can separate whole items of POP seating from mixed waste, e.g. mixed waste skip. If you can show it has not contaminated the other waste. If the other waste has been contaminated it all must be treated as POP waste.

How Can I see if Waste Contains POPs?

Using x-ray fluorescence to scan for bromine will indicate the presence of POPs 

How Can I Dispose of Upholstered Seating Containing POPs?

Any seating containing POPs must be incinerated. The hazardous waste incinerator must be authorised to accept POP waste. Find your nearest hazardous waste centre by contacting your local council. POP waste should not be treated, recycled or disposed by any other method  than incineration.  

Will Landfill Accept Upholstered Domestic Seating?

Landfill operators must not accept any upholstered domestic seating waste including:

  • Segregated items of upholstered seating 

  • Mixed waste containing upholstered seating 

  • Any waste from treating upholstered seating 

The only upholstered seating that can go to landfill is seating that can be confirmed as not containing any POPs. 


This new set of legislation will affect all of us including, waste management firms, skip companies and furniture manufactures. To make sure you are on the right side of the law when it comes to upholstered seating disposal, dispose of it in the correct manner.  

Author: James Duncan

Date: 12/12/2022

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