Landfill restrictions on wood could cause a market glut, recyclers fear.
Responding to a Defra consultation, the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) told ministers “the time is not right” for wood waste restrictions.
Executive director Peter Butt said while WRA had always been, and remained a “supporter of plans to minimise landfill”, it had come to the decision not to support restrictions now because of the current feedstock over-supply.
Current uncertainty over near to medium term market trends, the small volume of wood going into landfill, and the “lack of obvious other markets” for types of wood recyclers could not use also led the trade body to its conclusion, said Butt.
He urged Government “to put plans in force to continue with the landfill tax escalator beyond 2014” as the best way to continue diverting wood from landfill, and called for “all possible steps [to be] taken to increase the speed of development of Energy from Waste (EfW), since this offers the best alternative market for “difficult” wood waste.”
David Lee, group operations director at Hadfield Wood Recyclers, said he agreed with the WRA that now was not the time for restrictions. He said very little easily segregated wood is going to landfill where there is market demand for it.
Richard Mehmed, managing director of the National Community Wood Recycling Project, told MRW that with a potential half a million tonnes of wood to be diverted from landfill it was important to “make sure the markets exist”.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA), which represents waste management and landfill operators, was similarly sceptical about a restriction.
In its response to Defra it said although not opposed to restriction in principle, it had “strong doubts about how practicable and necessary it is in practice”.
ESA said it would be difficult and expensive for collectors to extract small pieces of wood, or wood attached to other materials, from the waste stream.
While there is a significant number of facilities under development to process wood into refuse-derived fuel, ESA said the UK market is currently immature and “not able to accept the variety of wood wastes”.
ESA said the landfill tax should be the main driver diverting wood from landfill along with the waste hierarchy. It added that any future restriction could only work with enforcement on the producer end of the supply chain.