Are POPs making your WEEE waste hazardous?

Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs as they are also known, are a group of harmful chemical substances which persist in the atmosphere for a long time and can have a significant negative impact on the environment and human health.

Although banned from use in production today, the flame-resistant attributes of some of these pollutants meant that historically they were added to the plastic used in the manufacture of many electrical products that presented a significant fire risk. Hairdryers, TVs and computer monitors are just some of the items that are likely to have been made with POPs plastic.

TVs, monitors, hairdryers….POPs are still out there

Whilst today the use of these pollutants is strictly prohibited under the Stockholm Convention, items that were manufactured some time ago are likely to still contain these dangerous pollutants. This causes somewhat of a problem when it comes to the disposal, re-use or recycling of such items.

Hazardous POPs = Complex Disposal

Regulations state that electrical waste (WEEE) that contains POPs above a defined level must be disposed of in a way that ensures that the POP is ‘destroyed or irreversibly transformed’ so that the negative environmental impact is no longer present. This means that waste electricals that contain POPs (or indeed, a certain threshold of POPs) need to be disposed of differently to those that don’t. Essentially, if the POP is above the threshold the item is classified as hazardous waste and must be treated as such.

Identifying POPs

The difficulty however arises in classifying which waste electricals contain POPs above a certain level, or if indeed they contain POPs at all. Identifying the presence of POPs isn’t easy and cannot be detected by sight or smell. POPs can only be identified by specialists who are able to run a series of complex chemical tests to determine the level of pollutant that exists in each item.

Expertise is key

This leaves the WEEE waste owner in somewhat of a quandary. With no way of knowing if it is hazardous or not, it’s tricky to know how to deal with the waste in a compliant manner. In this scenario it is always best to call in the experts and work with a waste management company that can deal with all aspects of the waste spectrum. Waste managers such as Cawleys can do just that. As well as a specialist WEEE collection service, at Cawleys we also have an expert hazardous waste division meaning that we can handle both hazardous and non hazardous WEEE including plastics that contain POPs. We can also offer advice on the best available disposal techniques.

Contacting the experts will ensure you remain on the right side of the law when disposing of your business’s dangerous WEEE waste. Get in touch today

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