Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in WEEE – Updated guidance from the Environment Agency

September 21st, 2020

We have previously reported on the revisions to the EU POPs Regulations during July 2019 which resulted in significant changes in, and cost implications for the compliant treatment of WEEE.

Just a reminder, the following WEEE is exempt because they do not contain POPs:

  • fridges, freezers, chillers and air-conditioning units;
  • as well as Large Domestic Appliances (white goods only such as; washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and cookers).

In light of the research carried out by ICER (see the report here;, the Environment Agency recently wrote to all parties dealing with the management of WEEE to clarify its regulatory position and confirm previously advised guidance on the handling of POPs-containing wastes.

The areas addressed are:

  • Waste classification and description, including POPs waste status, of
    • WEEE devices
    • Components removed from WEEE
    • Wastes from the treatment of WEEE

(Waste holders are responsible for the correct classification of their waste)

  • Management of POPs-containing waste

(Wastes containing POPs above the legal threshold cannot be recycled at all)

  • Hazardous Waste Controls
  • The export of WEEE or its components
  • The reuse of WEEE

(Except for LDA white goods and Refrigerators, reuse is prohibited if an item has ever been discarded as waste unless it can be demonstrated not to contain POPs)

There are no significant changes to the guidance but the letter cross-references the bases for it in other regulations.

The initial focus of the Agency’s regulatory work will be on the misclassification and subsequent mistreatment of POPs wastes. However, it expects all affected businesses – those involved in the storage, transportation and treatment of WEEE - to be able to demonstrate compliance with the law through their auditable processes and procedures.

Limited latitude will be given to companies affected by the consequences of the virus pandemic, but the Agency is clear that the law will be enforced.

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