Identifying and treating Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)


What are POPs and why are they dangerous?

Firstly, what are POPs? Persistent Organic Pollutants, more commonly known as ‘POPs’, are toxic chemicals that break down slowly and can eventually find ways into food chains as a result.

For businesses, it is important to check with your waste services provider, to ensure POPs are being appropriately handled and treated. This is part of your duty of care as a waste producer. In this blog, we explore the topic and share insights into the identification and disposal routes for POPs.

Not only can POPs ending up in food cause health problems for humans, but they also pose a threat to wildlife. The WWF confirmed that even small quantities of POPs can cause damage to animal tissue, resulting in damage to nervous systems, diseases of the immune system, reproductive and developmental disorders, and even cancers.  You can find the full list of POPs and the threat they cause on the website, in this list.

Although the manufacturing and selling of products containing POPs is now banned in the United Kingdom, there are still items containing POPs out there that can, unfortunately, find ways into waste heading into the recycling system. Normally, this arrives from upholstered domestic waste being cleared out from old storage, however, it also remains a key issue when it comes to commercial waste.

What to do with POPs

Under the duty of care, the responsibility of identifying POPs in items of waste sits with the holder. This means that correct disposal routes become the responsibility of the holder too, making it imperative that all guidance surrounding POPs is both clear and concise.

In a recent article on LetsRecycle, Environment Agency (EA) regulator, Bob McIntyre, shared the agency’s key focus on the specific waste streams that are being targeted to meet current POPs compliance:

  • WEEE waste: –
    – Plastics
    – Cable
    – PC boards
    – Other products such as printer cartridges
  • And soft furnishings, eg domestic seating


Contact AWS Nationwide

If you are unsure how to identify POPs, or require assistance with the correct disposal, please do not hesitate to contact AWS Nationwide:

New customers

Existing customers for Nationwide Services Group Ltd
Call – 02392 604351

Existing customers for Advanced Waste Solutions Ltd
Call  01202 870833