Changes in wood classification would have dramatic consequences says LARAC

Industry leaders met with the Environment Agency yesterday to discuss the proposed ‘dramatic’ changes (so called by LARAC’s CEO, Lee Marshall) to waste wood classification following the proposals put forward by the EA. 

The meeting yesterday followed a joint letter sent to the EA from the Wood Recyclers Association, LARAC, NAWDO, the Wood Panel Industries Federation, and major waste management companies such as FCC, Suez, Veolia and the United Resource Operators and other trade organisations. The letter outlined the problems the group found with the EA’s proposal to record mixed waste wood at the front end of the wood recycling and recovery process.  The issue particularly effects mixed waste loads.  The EA’s recommendation that any item of treated waste wood that has not been assessed appropriately be classified as hazardous waste might result in classifying entire mixed waste loads as hazardous.  Needless to say, this could massively impinge on wood collected at civic amenity sites and have implications on funding, licensing and usage implications. 

Lee Marshall, CEO of LARAC said;

“ LARAC is working alongside others in the wood and wider industry to ensure that appropriate regulation of wood recycling is happening. The current changes proposed by the EA and NRW would have dramatic changes in how we manage wood at CA sites and beyond and would could see recycling rates drop by 5%, which is no one’s interest.”

Andy Hill, Chair of the WRA, quoted on the letsrecycle website, explained that the regulations were “unnecessary” as waste wood customers already test wood to ensure it is safe to the environment and human health.  Since learning of the Agency’s proposals, a number of WRA member companies have carried out tests at their sites, the results of which have also been shared with the Environment Agency, said the WRA.  These early test results indicate 0.01 to 0.02% of total waste received during the past month as having been hazardous.  Mr Hill said: “We are working collaboratively with the EA to find a workable solution that satisfies the needs of all parties and are currently looking collectively at how this can be achieved. We will also continue to collate information to further back up our initial evidence.”

The industry group expressed their worries in the letter over the effects on local authorities of the proposed regulations, with rising costs as a result of additional separation or consigning mixed waste wood as hazardous, which would in turn reduce recycling rates by 2-6% a year.

The letter also included fears that fly-tipping and other unauthorised routes could grow as local authorities may become unwilling to accept mixed waste wood at household waste recycling sites. Landfilling could increase for both non-hazardous and hazardous wood, andd at the same time, landfills have restrictions on accepting organic materials – which hazardous wood falls under.