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Wood recyclers tackle hazardous material

Wood recyclers are developing standards on handling hazardous waste wood in the UK in response to concerns that poor material is being sent to biomass boilers.

A group of industry representatives has been set up by the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) to work with the Environment Agency (EA) on

  • defining hazardous waste wood
  • identifying best practice for assessment by wood recyclers and reprocessors
  • developing a code of practice for the sector

The initiative follows an approach to the WRA from the EA which was concerned that lower grade waste being used as a fuel in some biomass boilers is not compliant with the Waste Incineration Directive (WID).

The move also anticipates EU guidance due within the next 12 months requiring mixed waste wood streams to be fully assessed before they are processed.

Andy Hill, chair of the WRA, said the work was in the early stages. It continues the co-operation between the two organisations in developing fire prevention plans.

“Most treatments used on wood today will not be hazardous, while others will only be hazardous at certain concentrations, so we feel confident we will be able to ensure that the WRA leads the way with a set of appropriate standards for defining hazardous wood.

“The waste wood sector makes an invaluable contribution to the UK’s energy security and, in conjunction with other current end markets for waste wood such as animal bedding and surfaces, the WRA is confident the new infrastructure will continue to make this market stronger.

“We are therefore committed to finding a practical solution that works for all parties and raises standards across the waste industry.”

In the UK, more than 77% of processed waste wood goes into energy recovery or panelboard, amounting to 3.8 million tonnes, with an additional 1.6 million tonnes of capacity due to come on-stream at new waste wood power plants this year. The facilities are WID-compliant.

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