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Upcoming Changes To The Treatment Of Upholstered Furniture At Council Recycling Centres

3rd September 2023

Members of the Communities and Place Committee of Highland council were briefed on an imminent legislative change being brought forward by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), concerning the collection, storage and treatment of Upholstered Domestic Seating at Council facilities throughout the region.

Currently the Council directs all Upholstered Furniture to landfill, however, yesterday's update outlined the operational and financial implications to the Council in adopting this legislative change and diverting Upholstered Furniture from landfill. This has prompted an imminent need to introduce separate treatment solutions locally to comply with SEPA’s statutory guidance, which is currently expected to be published for roll-out later in September 2023.

During the course of 2023, SEPA engaged with Councils on the implications of research undertaken by the Environment Agency on the chemical content of Upholstered Furniture. The research found that a large proportion of Upholstered Furniture is thought to contain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), chemicals which are largely used as fire retardants.

Cllr Graham MacKenzie, Chair of the Communities and Place Committee, commented: "The upcoming legislation from SEPA is concerned with the negative impacts of Persistent Organic Pollutants on animals, humans and the environment. In mitigation, this legislation will place an obligation upon local authorities to divert these types of waste away from landfill to prevent bioaccumulation."

He continued: “In readiness for implementing this guidance, the majority of our Household Waste Recycling Centres in Highland have suitable space identified for residents to separate their Upholstered Furniture. Centres that do not have adequate space to accommodate an additional skip container for this purpose will stop accepting upholstered furniture from the time of implementation.”

“However, members of the public should be reassured that the bulky waste collection service will continue to be provided as normal and operatives will separate upholstered furnishings at the point of collection.”

The risk to human health from handling these types of un-damaged waste upholstered seating is minimal and people do not need to get rid of household furniture items. Confirmation of the date of implementation and further guidance will be provided to the public at Household Waste Recycling Centres, on the Council’s website, through the media and on social media platforms.


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