Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are a group of chemicals that were historically included in the production of some electrical plastics. At the time, largely before 2009, POPs were used for their fire retardant properties, however, they have since been found to be dangerous. In the past 18 months WEEE waste containing POPs have received more attention from the Environment Agency and they have now been reclassified as hazardous.
What are the new rules for WEEE waste containing POPs?
As a hazardous waste stream there are now strict rules around the disposal of WEEE containing POPs and all organisations must adhere to this. The rules include employing a licensed waste contractor to collect and process the waste, and specialist paperwork to prove that this has been done. Furthermore, reuse is also prohibited, meaning that any item containing POPs must be destroyed through an approved route such as incineration.
Why are POPS so bad?
The reason there are so many strict guidelines around Persistent Organic Pollutants is because they are a highly harmful chemical which can bio-accumulate even through recycling and reuse. They can be harmful to humans, animals and the environment. Due to this, it is essential that they are disposed of correctly and destroyed via the correct methods.
How do I know if my electrical waste contains POPs?
Essentially it is the responsibility of the organisation that has produced the WEEE waste to know if it contains POPs or not. However, few of us are experts in this area so if your business has WEEE waste but you're unsure if it contains POPs you could:
- ask the suppliers or manufacturers of the material
- test the material yourself to find out the concentration of any POPs in it
- get the material analysed by a laboratory
All of the above solutions can be time consuming and costly, particularly as each differing type of appliance and plastic would need to be tested individually. For example, one individual keyboard might have have different plastics used for the case, keys or circuitry and each would need testing separately.
Ultimately, if you’re unsure if an item contains POPs, and you want to avoid expensive third party testing, it is probably much simpler, and wiser, to err on the side of caution and treat the item as hazardous as a precaution.
Which WEEE items are now classified as hazardous by Cawleys?
In line with the new guidelines, and to help and protect all of our customers, we will now be classifying all WEEE in the list below as hazardous and we will raise an additional consignment note to cover the process and ensure your organisation can prove it is adhering to the new rules. We are confident that this will be the easiest way to reassure our customers and the authorities that waste with potential POPs properties is fully compliant.
Of course, if your organisation has the expertise and resource to test its WEEE waste and all such items can be collected with the relevant POPs-free paperwork, then we can collect the waste as non-hazardous, just as before.
However, for the majority of our clients we hope that the hazardous chart below will help them eradicate the need for plastics testing.
|Waste description||Waste status||Household||Industrial or commercial|
|Small mixed WEEE containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cathode ray tube (CRT), flatscreen (plasma or LCD) containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35*||16-02-13*|
|Cat 1: Large household appliances (other than LDA white goods) containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 2: Small household appliances containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 3: IT and telecommunication equipment containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 4: Consumer equipment containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 5: Lighting equipment containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 6: Electronic and electrical tools containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|
|Cat 7: Toys, leisure and sporting equipment containing POPs||Hazardous and POPs||20-01-35* and 20 01 36||n/a|