Research has highlighted that furniture could be classed as hazardous waste if it contains concentrations of flame-retardant chemicals.
Furniture Industry Research Association International said it was possible that some of the chemicals used for fire safety reasons could be classed as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under EU’s registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (Reach) system.
Furniture technologist Sherree Felice, who conducted the research, said: “The chemical nature of flame retardants has led to many of them being assessed for their potentially hazardous environmental impact.
“The upholstered furniture industry is now facing challenges as a number of flame-retardant chemicals are being placed on Reach candidate lists. Some are also being considered for designation as POPs.
“These factors would have a significant impact on the use of, and responsibilities for, such chemicals and on how to deal with product containing them at end of life.”
Inclusion on a list of POPs could mean that discarded furniture is counted as hazardous waste, Felice said.
Her project considered the possibility of a labelling system on furnishings to indicate the flame-retardant chemicals used so that waste centres would know how to handle them.