In December 2022 we saw new guidelines issued by the Environment Agency to ensure there’s no contamination from waste containing POPs (persistent organic pollutants). Any waste that could contain POPs must not be mixed in with general waste, and must be incinerated or used as fuel, for example in a cement kiln.

The process of segregation, pre-shredding and incineration will require local exhaust ventilation to remove any dust and particles from site premises.

With changes to the way we dispose of upholstery items it will inevitably have a knock-on effect for recycling sites and councils, with the need to provide complete segregation for POPs waste and dispose of any waste alongside that may have been contaminated in the process of waste disposal.

What are POPs?

As defined by the ECHA, “POPs (persistent organic pollutants) are organic substances that persist in the environment, accumulate in living organisms and pose a risk to our health and the environment.”

Examples of business and household items that may contain POPs include sofas, armchairs, dining room chairs, foot stools, home office chairs, futons and bean bags.

POPs are often contained within the back of covers and foams of domestic seating. Common chemicals contained include decabromodiphenyl ether, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD, pentabromodiphenyl ether and tetrabromodiphenyl ether. Any material in contact with the foam or covers used in upholstered seating waste may also be contaminated.

Disposing of Waste Containing POPs

Any waste containing POPs must be stored away from general waste. To prepare POPs waste for incineration it must firstly be shredded, in order to break down whole items such as domestic seating. The shredding plant must be contained within a building, with adequate ventilation to eliminate the spread of any emissions of particulates within the plant.

Government guidelines state ‘you must control fugitive emissions of particulates using one of the following:

  • containment and abatement of the shredding plant
  • local extraction to abatement
  • full building extraction under negative pressure to abatement’

Creating an area of containment with a LEV (local exhaust ventilation) system for the shredding plant will reduce the need for full building extraction under negative pressure. Not only providing a more cost-effective option, but creating a dedicated space for the destruction of POPs waste, and eliminating the risk of further contamination.

Local Exhaust Ventilation Solutions for Waste Disposal

Appropriate measures to contain dust include local exhaust ventilation (LEV) for both new and existing shredders, particularly where the shredder is not located in the fuel hall of an incinerator.

If waste is broken up, as opposed to shredded, further consideration is required into whether any additional measures are necessary to prevent and capture any emissions during activities that could release POPs. The separation of any dust from the extraction process can also be incinerated.

It is also important to note that the incinerator plant must carry out a LEV assessment to establish if any secondary pollution will be generated, with measures put in place to avoid affecting both employees and the surrounding environment.

With over 4 decades of experience, Fercell have the expertise to design, install and service a LEV system to adequately capture and control particulate emissions to the prescribed size and monitor the filter condition by means of differential pressure.

Dust Extraction – Bag Filters

The guidance issued by the Environment Agency states that ‘you must use bag filters on the abatement plant designed to release particulates below 5mg/m3. They must be fitted with continuous and alarmed pressure monitoring to make sure the filters are working correctly.’

The use of bag filters is ideal where heat, moisture, fibrous particulate and heavy dust are required for removal.

A range of enclosed dust extraction bag filters are available, offering the flexibility to provide an exact application fit. The filter area required for the volume of air will determine the necessary LEV system.

Fercell will carry out a site inspection to assess the size, equipment and requirements of the premises. Following which a proposal will be sent with a solution for the most appropriate and fitting extraction system.

Industrial premises often use baghouse filters, a form of bag filter system, which are designed for heavy duty applications, with the ability to handle high dust loads and capture abrasive particles.

Baghouse filters often benefit from being compartmentalised, which will allow a particular section to be cleaned, without the need to shut the whole system down, allowing minimal downtime.

With the hazard of processing combustible material Fercell offer a series of ATEX rated equipment.

An example of enclosed dust filters includes the UPD ATEX dust extractor. Made of modular galvanised sheet panels it is conceived to work in negative pressure (with the fan on the clean air side) and it’s also suitable for positive pressure installation. Find out more here.

To ensure dust is collected safely and efficiently an extraction system will either adopt a basic sack collection or incorporate a fully integrated system with process valves and conveyors.

To remain compliant there must be an alarm pressure monitor fitted to the system. A filter breach monitor on the exhaust of the dust extraction system monitors the amount of dust particles. If the particulate is too high, it will trigger the alarm and can be configured to shut down the system if the emissions are at unsafe levels.

Fercell have installed industrial ventilation and recycling plant equipment in numerous recycling centres across the UK. Providing the complete service wrap, we have a wealth of knowledge to ensure you are operating with the correct local exhaust systems in place, ensuring a safe and compliant work space. To discuss your project requirements, call our ventilation team on 01622 791414 or email

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