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Cambridgeshire to accept upholstered seating waste from Saturday

06 January 2023

All nine household waste recycling centres in Cambridgeshire will accept upholstered household seating again from tomorrow (Saturday 7th January), the County Council has confirmed

The council has apologised to residents affected by last week’s sudden temporary restriction on accepting upholstered seating while it worked at pace with its partners on a safe disposal method.

An interim solution for accepting waste items such as sofas, upholstered chairs, cushions, and beanbags at all the recycling centres, will also allow bulky waste collections offered by all of the county’s City and District Councils to resume. Please check their websites for further details.

“We don’t underestimate the concerns last week’s sudden announcement will have caused many of our residents, and we would like to apologise to them for that, and thank them for their patience and understanding,” said Steve Cox, Cambridgeshire’s Executive Director of Place and Sustainability.

“Changes to the way we are allowed to safely dispose of these items meant we were given an extremely short timeframe to deal with waste that could no longer be put into landfill, which had to be stored separately from any other waste before being incinerated.

“As a county council that traditionally doesn’t use incineration for its waste, we didn’t have an easy or immediate solution to hand.”

“We are extremely grateful to our partners across the whole system including our contractor Thalia who has worked with us at pace over the past week, from the date it was confirmed to us by the Environment Agency that we would be in breach of legislation from January 1st, “ said Cllr Lorna Dupre, Chair of the Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee.

“This has meant we now have safe and compliant temporary solutions to allow us to continue to accept this waste until we are able to dispose of it safely by incineration.”

Staff will be available at each of the recycling centre sites to advise and show residents where they can dispose of upholstered household seating

Residents are also reminded that there are alternatives to taking upholstered household seating to recycling centres.

Please consider asking the retailer to take your old furniture away when new items are delivered, (companies like John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, DFS etc all operate take-back schemes). Or give it a new lease of life by donating it to a charity, sell it or giving it away on social media or online auction sites.


  • Legislation on the disposal of POPs (persistent organic pollutants) was implemented in the UK in 2007 and came into force on 3rd December 2007 –at the time it did not make any reference to upholstered domestic seating.
  • This 2007 legislation has been amended several times to reflect changes owing to technical and scientific advancements including additions to the list of POPs.
  • The Regulation was recast on 20th June 2019 as Regulation 2019/1021, and it is this Regulation, as amended by the Persistent Organic Pollutants (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022, that is the current legislation governing this issue in the UK.
  • The EA’s web-based guidance ‘identify and dispose of waste containing persistent organic pollutants’ updated in June 2020 made no specific mention of the potential presence of POPs in upholstered domestic seating.
  • The EA contacted councils and operators of Household Waste Recycling Centres in August 2022 to issue draft guidance about the inclusion of upholstered domestic seating waste affected by POPs
  • At this time 55% of local authorities who responded to a survey by LARAC (Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee) said they did not believe they could be compliant with the regulations by the deadline of 31st December.
  • Cambridgeshire raised serious concerns with DEFRA and the EA throughout the Autumn, while working with our contractor to find compliant operators to deal with the waste.
  • Operators were not willing to enter into agreements until the final guidance was published by the EA.
  • The final EA guidance was published on 19 December 2022 – which confirmed upholstered domestic seating waste affected by POPs would be included and confirmed that the council would not be compliant with legislation if a solution was not in place from January 1st 2023.
  • Confirmation of this advice was immediately sought by Cambridgeshire County Council, and received on December 23rd.