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EA assures wood recyclers over hazardous classification

Wood recyclers have welcomed the Environment Agency’s (EA) promise that it will reconsider plans for a new waste wood assessment process, which the industry feared would have a ”catastrophic effect” on major consumers.

The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) and others wrote to the EA during August over a suggestion that mixed waste wood should be recorded at the front end of the wood recycling and recovery process.

The WRA is concerned that if the potentially hazardous properties of a mixed waste wood load cannot be properly assessed at the front end, the whole load would need to be classified as hazardous.

The EA was concerned that treated waste wood was being described as untreated, clean grade A material and being used in non-compliant boilers.

An industry delegation met the EA on 4 September. A WRA spokesperson said it had been a constructive meeting and the EA had promised to review matters. 

This went some way to allay fears expressed ahead of the meeting by WRA chair Andy Hill, who said: “This [assessment change] could have a catastrophic effect on the industry’s two major consumers of mixed waste wood – panelboard and energy suppliers – both of which contribute a huge amount to the UK’s economy and recycling/recovery targets.” 

Hill said energy suppliers and panelboard manufacturers accounted for 80% of the UK’s total waste wood market.

Energy suppliers and panelboard manufacturers have recognised that there is an element of risk from hazardous waste wood in their feedstock, and both sectors have testing regimes in place to ensure levels are acceptable and do not pose a danger to the environment or human health.

Wood industry experts are now working with the EA and carrying out testing and analysis. The WRA says early results indicate .01 to .02% of total waste received during the past month was hazardous.

  • Supporters include the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, the Wood Panel Industries Federation, FCC Environment, Veolia, Suez and the United Resource Operators Consortium

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