Why you can’t take sofas, chairs, cushions and beanbags to household waste sites in Cambridgeshire from January 1
A council leader has expressed her disappointment at the news that disposing of upholstered sofas, chairs, cushions and beanbags will be banned at waste sites in Cambridgeshire.
The items will no longer be accepted at Cambridgeshire County Council-owned household waste and recycling centres from January 1.
Cllr Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, says the announcement has left no time for alternative arrangements to be made.
The decision comes as a result of enforcement action being taken by the Environment Agency, and also means that East Cambs Street Scene will not currently be able to collect these items as part of its household or bulky waste collections.
Cambridge City Council announced yesterday (Thursday, December 29) that it has temporarily suspended its bulky waste collection service due to the change in legislation.
This is because there are no Household Waste Recycling Centres in Cambridgeshire that will be able to dispose of them.
A city council spokesperson said: “We apologise for the short notice. We are working hard to resume collections.”
The spokesperson added that Cambridge’s bulky waste collection service would continue to collect white goods and hazardous electrical items.
East Cambridgeshire District Council said it was “urgently working” with the county council and its partners to resolve this.
Residents are being advised to try and use re-use schemes or retailer take-back initiatives where available or retain these items until there is a further update.
Under the legislation, Persistent Organic Pollutants (known as POPs) cannot be disposed of in landfill – which is currently how the county council disposes of all waste that cannot be recycled.
POPs are found in waste upholstered domestic seating (WUDS) textiles and foams treated with fire retardants, such as sofas, chairs, cushions or beanbags.
Despite appeals from Cambridgeshire County Council to the Environment Agency to delay the enforcement of the regulations to allow alternative measures to be put in place for waste operators and residents, the new changes will come into effect from January 1.
This final decision was confirmed to the district and city council on Thursday, December 29.
Legislation relating to POPs was first enacted in 2007 but has not previously been enforced by the Environment Agency. It requires any POPs waste to be incinerated and not landfilled – and this would also include any non-POPs waste that may have come into contact with it, and therefore may also be contaminated. A confirmed list of incinerators able to receive POPs has not yet been supplied to East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Cllr Bailey said: “This council declared a climate emergency back in 2019 and since then has been doing everything it can to become net carbon zero by 2040.
“However, it is very disappointing to learn this will be coming in to force on January 1 before alternative arrangements can be put in place.
“We will be working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council which is the waste disposal authority to discuss how best to manage the situation in the interim, whilst a longer-term solution can be secured.
“In the meantime, given the fact that neither the Council or our waste contractor can operate illegally, then we have no choice but to cease the acceptance of Waste Upholstered Domestic Seating. We will also do our very best to inform residents – many of whom will be looking to dispose of sofas and chairs after making new purchases over the festive period – that they will not be able to do so via a Household Waste Recycling Centre in Cambridgeshire from Sunday. Instead, we ask that they take advantage of reuse schemes or trade-in initiatives used by retailers or hold onto such items until we can provide an update.”
Residents can choose to use a private waste collection service to dispose of foam-filled furniture, but are advised to check the waste carriers are licenced and that they are taking the items for incineration.