Guidance

Dispose of waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

How to destroy material that contains POPs, or apply for permission to permanently store it underground.

You must follow this guide if you’re disposing of waste that contains a persistent organic pollutant (POP) at a concentration that triggers POP disposal requirements.

Find out if your waste contains POPs

It’s your responsibility to know if your waste material contains POPs.

If you’re not sure you can:

  • 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

POP concentrations that trigger disposal requirements

You only need to follow the requirements in this guide if your waste contains a POP above the thresholds listed in this table:

Persistent organic pollutant (POP) Concentration threshold
Aldrin 50 mg per kg
Alkanes C10 – C13, chloro (short-chain chlorinated parafins) (SCCPs) 10,000 mg per kg
Chlordane 50 mg per kg
Dieldrin 50 mg per kg
Endosulfan 50 mg per kg
Endrin 50 mg per kg
Heptachlor 50 mg per kg
Hexabromobiphenyl 50 mg per kg
Hexachlorobutadiene 100 mg per kg
Hexabromocyclododecane 1,000 mg per kg (to be reviewed by 20 April 2019)
Hexachlorobenzene 50 mg per kg
Mirex 50 mg per kg
Toxaphene 50 mg per kg
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) 50 mg per kg (if you’re not sure whether your waste contains PCBs, apply the calculation method laid down in European standards EN 12766-1 and EN 12766-2, which can be purchased online)
Polychlorinated napthalenes 10 mg per kg
DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl) ethane) 50 mg per kg
Chlordecone 50 mg per kg
Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) 15 μg (micrograms) per kg, meaning 0.000015g of PCDD or PCDF per kg of waste (you need to use the toxic equivalency factor of each PCDD or PCDF, to calculate concentration)
Hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCH), including lindane 50 mg per kg
Total of Tetra-, Penta-, Hexa-, and Hepta- bromodiphenyl ether 1,000 mg per kg
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and PFOS derivatives 50 mg per kg
Pentachlorobenzene 50 mg per kg

The chemical formulae, EC numbers and CAS numbers for each of the POPs in the table are available in the list of POPs.

Email chemicalrestrictions@environment-agency.gov.uk if your waste contains a POP for which a concentration threshold isn’t given in the table.

Destroy the POP content of your waste

You can send your waste to a disposal site capable of completely destroying POPs or irreversibly transforming them using one of the following methods:

  • physico-chemical treatment (such as chemical destruction)
  • incineration on land
  • using the waste as a fuel or other means to generate energy (not for material containing PCBs)

It’s up to the site that takes your waste to make sure the POP content of your waste is destroyed or irreversibly transformed. But you must make sure the site is capable of destroying it using one of the methods listed.

Apply to permanently store material that contains POPs

In exceptional cases you can apply for permission to permanently store some types of waste and hazardous waste that contains POPs, instead of destroying them.

To get approval, you’ll need to demonstrate to the Environment Agency that your waste is suitable for permanent storage and that this is environmentally preferable to destruction.

Permission is given on a case by case basis. Email chemicalrestrictions@environment-agency.gov.uk if you want to discuss this option.

Where you can permanently store material

If the Environment Agency approves your application to store rather than destroy waste, you can store it at any of the following types of sites:

  • deep underground hard rock formations
  • salt mines
  • hazardous waste landfill sites

Veolia’s Minosus salt mine in Cheshire is currently the only site in the UK where you can permanently store waste that contains POPs.

Email chemicalrestrictions@environment-agency.gov.uk to discuss other sites outside the UK.

When you can send material to landfill

The Environment Agency will only approve you application to send material to a hazardous waste landfill site if its POP concentrations are lower than the thresholds given in the following table.

POP Concentration threshold
Aldrin 5,000 mg per kg
Alkanes C10 - C13, chloro (short-chain chlorinated parafins) (SCCPs) 10,000 mg per kg
Chlordane 5,000 mg per kg
Chlordecone 5,000 mg per kg
DDT 5,000 mg per kg
Dieldrin 5,000 mg per kg
Endosulfan 5,000 mg per kg
Endrin 5,000 mg per kg
Heptachlor 5,000 mg per kg
Hexabromobiphenyl 5,000 mg per kg
Hexabromocyclododecane 1,000 mg per kg
Hexachlorobenzene 5,000 mg per kg
Hexachlorobutadiene 1,000 mg per kg
HCH, including lindane 5,000 mg per kg
Mirex 5,000 mg per kg
Pentachlorobenzene 5,000 mg per kg
Perfluorooctane sulfinic acid and its derivatives (PFOS) 50 mg per kg
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 50 mg per kg
Polychlorinated dibenzop-dioxins (PCDD) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF) (find out how to calculate the concentration of PCDD and PCDF) 5 mg per kg
Polychlorinated napthalenes 1,000 mg per kg
Total of tetra-, penta-, hexa- and hepta- bromodiphenyl ether 10,000 mg per kg
Toxaphene 5,000 mg per kg

If your waste’s POP concentration exceeds the thresholds in the table, you’ll have to apply to send the waste to underground storage in a salt mine or rock formation, or destroy it.

Toxic equivalency factors of PCDDs and PCDFs

To find out the concentration of PCDDs and PCDFs in your waste, you need to multiply the concentration of the specific PCDD or PCDF in your waste by its toxic equivalency factor (TEF).

The TEFs of each PCDD or PCDF are provided in this section if you want to make calculations yourself.

Alternatively you can email chemicalrestrictions@environment-agency.gov.uk if your material contains PCDDs or PCDFs and you want to discuss how to calculate concentrations.

TEFs of PCDDs

The following table lists the toxic equivalency factor for each type of PCDD:

PCDD TEF
2,3,7,8-TeCDD 1
1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD 1
1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDD 0.1
1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDD 0.1
1,2,3,7,8,9-HxCDD 0.1
1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD 0.01
OCDD 0.0003
1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDF 0.1
1,2,3,7,8,9-HxCDF 0.1
2,3,4,6,7,8-HxCDF 0.1
1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF 0.01
1,2,3,4,7,8,9-HpCDF 0.01
OCDF 0.0003

TEFs of PCDFs

The following table gives the toxic equivalency factor for each type of PCDF:

PCDF TEF
2,3,7,8-TeCDF 0.1
1,2,3,7,8-PeCDF 0.03
2,3,4,7,8-PeCDF 0.3
1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDF 0.1

Mixtures of multiple PCDDs or PCDFs

If your waste contains a mixture of several different PCDDs and PCDFs, you need to multiply each PCDD or PCDF by its TEF, and then add the concentrations together.

Example calculation

If your waste contains 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD at a concentration of 14 μg per kg and 1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDD at a concentration of 30 μg per kg, you would calculate the concentration of PCDDs and PCDFs as follows.

14 μg per kg x 1 (TEF of 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD) + 30 μg per kg x 0.1 (TEF of 1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDD)
= 14 μg per kg + 3 μg per kg
= 17 μg per kg

In this case the concentration of PCDDs and PCDFs in your waste would be above the threshold (15 μg per kg) and you would have to follow this guide when disposing of it.

Published 27 March 2015
Last updated 8 August 2016 + show all updates
  1. Changes to the EU POPs regulations: new substances have been added to the regulations; conditions for some substances have changed; thresholds for waste management controls have been amended.
  2. First published.