Identify and classify waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

How to identify and classify waste that contains POPs.

Applies to England

You must follow this guide if you deal with waste that contains a persistent organic pollutant (POP).

POPs are chemical substances that do not break down in the environment. They are a danger to human health and the environment.

Find out if your waste contains POPs

You are responsible under your duty of care to know if your waste material contains POPs.

Find out what types of:

For other waste types, if you are not sure you can:

  • ask the supplier or manufacturer of the material
  • test the material yourself to find out the concentration of any POPs in it
  • get the material analysed by a laboratory

Sort and store POPs waste safely and securely

You must take all reasonable steps to avoid mixing POPs waste with other waste during storage, collection and treatment.

If you do mix, you must manage the whole load as POPs waste. You must destroy the POPs even if the mixing has diluted the POPs to below the concentration limit.

Describe and classify POPs waste

You must provide an accurate description of your waste as part of your duty of care.

You must include POPs in the description where they are present.

See how to describe and classify:

When you must destroy the POPs in waste

If the POPs in the waste are at or above the concentration limits listed in the concentration limits table, the waste is known as POPs waste.

You must destroy (or irreversibly transform) the POPs in POPs waste.

If you recover or dispose of POPs waste, you must follow the guidance on how to manage waste containing persistent organic pollutants. It explains when the outputs from your process are POPs waste and how concentration limits are applied to them.

Concentration limit table

Persistent organic pollutant (POP) Concentration threshold
Aldrin 50mg per kg
Alkanes C10 – C13, chloro (short-chain chlorinated parafins) (SCCPs) 10,000mg per kg
Chlordane 50mg per kg
Dieldrin 50mg per kg
Endosulfan 50mg per kg
Endrin 50mg per kg
Heptachlor 50mg per kg
Hexabromobiphenyl 50mg per kg
Hexachlorobutadiene 100mg per kg
Hexabromocyclododecane 1,000mg per kg
Hexachlorobenzene 50mg per kg
Mirex 50mg per kg
Toxaphene 50mg per kg
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) 50mg per kg (if you are not sure whether your waste contains PCBs, use the calculation method given in European standards EN 12766-1 and EN 12766-2, which you can buy online)
Polychlorinated napthalenes 10mg per kg
DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl) ethane) 50mg per kg
Chlordecone 50mg per kg
Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) 15μg (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, including lindane 50mg per kg
Total of tetra-, penta-, hexa-, hepta- and deca- bromodiphenyl ether Sum of concentrations: 1,000mg per kg
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and PFOS derivatives 50mg per kg
Pentachlorobenzene 50mg per kg

You can find the chemical formulae, European Community (EC) numbers and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers for each of the POPs in this table in the list of POPs.

Your laboratory analysis may significantly underestimate the concentration of POPs present in some materials if extraction efficiency is poor. For example, polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in plastic. You must measure the extraction efficiency and adjust the results accordingly.

Manage POPs in waste

If your waste is POPs waste you must follow the guidance manage waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The guidance tells you:

  • how to get the POPs material removed from the waste
  • how to get the POPs content of your waste destroyed
  • the rules for recycling waste containing POPs
  • the rules for recovering waste containing POPs
  • the rules for reusing waste containing POPs
  • how to apply to dispose of POPs waste by permanent storage
Published 19 December 2022