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Environment Agency Reassures Over Classification of Waste Wood

The Environment Agency has reassured wood recyclers that it is not going ahead with proposed changes to the classification of waste wood.

The message comes after a number of organisations warned that suggested changes could reduce the UK’s recycling rate by two to six per cent a year.

Representatives from a number of organisations wrote to the Environment Agency earlier this month to outline fears about a proposal put forward, which suggested mixed waste wood should be recovered at the front end of the wood recycling and recovery process. If the potentially hazardous properties of a mixed waste wood load cannot be properly assessed at the front end of the process, then the proposal stated that the whole load may have to be classified as hazardous.

A letter was sent from the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA), the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF), as well as a number of waste management companies and trade associations.

Andy Hill, Chair of the WRA, said of the proposal: “We’re concerned this could have a catastrophic effect on the industry’s two major consumers of mixed waste wood, panel board and energy suppliers, both of whom contribute a huge amount to the UK’s economy and recycling/recovery targets.

“As a joint working group we have come together to ask the EA to reconsider its position and allow us time to move this situation forward without any knee-jerk reactions.”

Following a meeting with the WRA, the Environment Agency has now reassured the wood recycling industry. In a statement Nicky Cunningham, Deputy Director for Waste Regulation, said: “We are not proposing changes to the classification of waste wood. As a regulator, we want to make sure that it is being classified correctly, according to the existing rules, so it is disposed of safely, protecting people and the environment.

“We are working with the Wood Recyclers Association and local authorities to improve practices in the sector, and in the interim we are jointly developing temporary measures to manage risk. No decisions have been made yet and we are discussing options to ensure they are suitable and proportionate.”

“Everyone in the waste chain has a responsibility to describe and check it properly so that waste wood ends up in the right place.”

The WRA said the meeting was a success and that they will be working with the EA to find a solution that is not detrimental to the industry.

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