The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed that flood-damaged items will not automatically be classed as hazardous, after industry concerns.
Industry figures including 360 Environmental’s Phil Conran and Northampton University professor Margaret Bates expressed concern on social media earlier this month that waste caused by floodwater would be prevented from being recycled due to it being classed as hazardous.
An EA spokesperson said: “Household items which need to be removed after flooding can in many cases be treated in the usual way for this type of waste.
“While items such as carpets and furniture may be damaged or contaminated and unsuitable for reuse, they are unlikely to be classed as hazardous after flooding unless they have come into contact with a significant amount of oil or other hazardous materials.
“Landfill is not the only option for waste disposal as recycling would still be possible in many cases.”
December 2015 was Britain’s wettest month, and local authorities affected by floods have been faced with the task of removing a large amount of damaged items from affected houses.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has reassured councils that they will be funded for the disposal of damaged items.
DCLG’s Communities and Business Recovery Scheme, run by local authorities, includes direct payments to householders and additional waste disposal costs for materials such as damaged furniture, carpets and sandbags.
The department’s Bellwin scheme compensates councils for the removal of debris that has ended up in public spaces or otherwise presents a danger or inconvenience to the public.
A DCLG spokesman said: “We are determined to stand squarely behind all of the communities and families affected by the devastating floods.
“The Government has made over £100m available to local councils, as part of a streamlined approach to ensure households and businesses get the support they need as quickly as possible.
“Councils facing clean-up costs can be confident they will be supported through the extension of the Bellwin scheme.”
EA chairman Sir Philip Dilley resigned this week in the wake of media criticism that he was on holiday in Barbados during Christmas while his staff were battling severe floods.
The Somerset Waste Partnership said that storm damage had knocked out collections in some areas of Mendip and South Somerset during Christmas.