Resources and waste minister Rebecca Pow has said that she is open to increasing packaging recycling targets for waste wood following a call led by the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA).

The WRA sent a letter co-signed by the Wood Panel Industries Federation and Confor to Defra in May calling for higher packaging recycling targets from 2024 in order to drive investment in recycling and ensure as much wood as possible is recycled in line with the waste hierarchy into products such as panel board and animal bedding.

The targets determine how much support wood reprocessors receive through the Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PRN) system but are set at just 35% for 2023 – the lowest for any material.

Responding to the letter this week (June 14), Rebecca Pow said: “I am encouraged that the wood sector is keen to have higher recycling targets.

“As part of finalising our plans for Extended Producer Responsibility, we will be confirming future recycling targets for all packaging materials.

“I am open to increasing targets for wood packaging and I have asked Defra officials to update you on current thinking.”

Ms Pow added that it was Defra’s intention to “resume the work on reusable packaging including specific measures to increase the reuse of wooden pallets” in order to “deliver the intended environmental benefits associated with increased re-use, whilst still providing incentives to recycle waste wood packaging where appropriate at the end of life.”

Commenting on the response, WRA Chair Richard Coulson said: “We are very pleased to hear that Defra are open to increasing the packaging recycling targets for waste wood, which have been set too low for too long.

“Setting higher targets under EPR will ensure that as much waste wood as possible is recycled in accordance with the waste hierarchy and will help to protect the many benefits the waste wood reprocessing sector brings.

“We look forward to engaging with officials at Defra to ensure any future targets create the best environmental outcome for both wood which is reusable and that which is not. We hope that any replacement to the PRN system also continues to support the recycling of suitable waste wood packaging.”

Alastair Kerr, Director General of the Wood Panel Industries Federation, said: “We welcome the statement by the Minister that Defra are open to the idea of increasing wood packaging recycling targets. Over the past decade we have seen the volumes of wood packaging come through for recycling reduce significantly. The capacity to recycle this material remains, all that is needed is the driver to push the material from recovery into recycling”.

Notes to Editors

About the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF)
Established in 1995, the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) is a representative organisation giving voice to the industrial manufacturers in the United Kingdom and Ireland of Chipboard, Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF).

About Confor
Confor is the not-for-profit organisation for the UK’s sustainable forestry and wood-using businesses. Through its members it represents a workforce of over 67,000 in the UK, employed across the whole forestry and wood supply chain from tree nurseries to forest managers, harvesters, wood fuel suppliers, sawmills, and wood panel businesses.

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