The waste management industry is awaiting the outcome of a meeting with the Environment Agency yesterday (4 September) to discuss contentious changes proposed for the classification of waste wood.
The Environment Agency is recommending that any item of treated waste wood that has not been assessed appropriately could be classified as hazardous waste, which could result in classifying entire mixed waste loads as hazardous. Such a classification could have a major impact on wood collected by skip hire and at household waste recycling centres with licensing, funding and usage implications.
The issue was raised by a consortium of industry bodies including the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA), the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF), major waste management companies, the United Resource Operators (UROC), and other trade associations. Two of the biggest users of waste wood – panel board manufacturers and biomass energy suppliers – are also supporting the campaign.
The Environment Agency’s proposals result from concerns that treated waste wood was being classified as untreated, clean grade A material and ending up in non Industrials Emissions Directive Chapter IV-compliant boilers. In addition to this, the European Commission has pointed out that the UK recycling market records 0.5% of its waste wood as hazardous – as opposed to 15% recorded by German markets. The WRA claim this discrepancy is because hazardous waste wood is a commodity in Germany and has different end-user recovery routes that do not exist in the UK.
The Association aim to prove to the Agency that the UK’s percentage of hazardous waste is quite small and has a minimal impact on the environment. If the proposal is implemented, it could have a catastrophic effect on the industry’s major consumers of mixed waste wood, panel board and energy suppliers whilst additional separation in household waste recycling centres and waste transfer sites would mean significant costs to operators, says the WRA.
The WRA are working collaboratively with the EA to find a workable solution that satisfies the needs of all parties and will also continue to collate information to further back up their evidence. We await the outcome with interest.