Up to half of wood recyclers in England will no longer be able accept wood treated with paint,preservatives or containing materials other than pure wood under new exemption regulations.
Exempted wood recycling sites which currently take this material will be breaching their exemption under these new rules developed by the Environment Agency and will have to apply for permits instead.
Due to come into force in April 2012, the regulations will mean that wood recyclers working under an exemption will be unable to accept any wood waste from civic amenity sites due to the contamination. Instead, these firms will have to apply for a new permit, which is replacing the old waste permits.
Although the true number is not currently known, it is thought around half of all wood recyclers in England work on an exempted site.
Hadfield Wood Recyclers managing director Geoff Hadfield told MRW: "If you have a deckchair with cloth on it [in your wood for reprocessing] thats not acceptable under the new exemption. The reason for this is because they want to permit everyone so the only type under the exemption would be virgin and clean pallet materials."
Under the revised exemption rules T6 Treatment of Waste Wood and Waste Plant Matter by Chipping, Shredding, Cutting or Pulverising it states that wood recyclers working under this cannot sort out waste wood or waste plant tissues from other wastes or chip or shred treated wood. These clauses will mean that mixed wood containing MDF, painted wood, chip board or any furniture which has fixtures or fittings will be defined as treated wood and therefore cannot be processed under the exemption. Furthermore, any non-wood materials contained in the wood, such as plastic film from wood pallets, or a felt roof from a shed would also breach exemption regulations.
Previous T6 regulations included similar regulations regarding mixed wood and non-wood material, however, according to Hadfield, it was widely believed treated wood referred to hazardous material such as creosoted wood. Hadfield commented: "The EA did not enforce the regulations but now they are cracking down and are sticking to every word of the T6 legislation".
Those recyclers currently under an exemption wishing to carry on taking wood from civic amenity sites will have to apply for a permit for their site. New permits will require a full audit of the site and those currently without planning permission will have to apply to their local authority. Under old exemption rules planning permission was not necessary. Additionally, wood recyclers will only be allowed to process 500 tonnes of material each week under the new T6 rules, rather than 1,000 tonnes under old regulations.
"It is going to cause a lot of disturbance because without being rude, some of them will not get planning permission for their sites just because of things like their location and the nature of their business," said Hadfield. "The regulations will transform the industry because it will be more monitored. It is a good thing because it is raising the standards of the industry.
"I think we will see a lot of consolidation among firms [in the industry] or theyll just decide to drop out of the industry all together."