Construction and demolition (C&D) companies must act now to prevent the risk of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste wood which could be recycled from being lost.

That is the message from the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA), which is urging C&D companies to test certain ‘amber’ waste wood items* from demolition as a matter of urgency and share their results with the WRA, to help determine which items are hazardous or not.

It is a legal requirement under RPS 291 for waste producers to test these items at least once per quarter and to share their results with the WRA. Only by sharing results and receiving a WRA Submission report, can they achieve compliance.

However, despite a huge communications campaign to raise awareness of the need to test, the WRA has not yet received nearly enough test results to build the evidence base it needs.

Without more test results, the WRA warns that many companies risk failing to comply with their legal duties and will be in a much worse position when RPS 291 is removed at the end of September.

Vicki Hughes, Technical Lead on the WRA Board, said: “Time is running out for companies in the construction and demolition sector to test their waste wood before RPS 291 is withdrawn at the end of September.

“If we don’t receive enough test results before then, every one of these ten items will have to be tested every time they are identified at great cost to the C&D industry.

“Tests will have to be done on each wood type because it is against the law to consign something as hazardous unless you test to prove it. It will also mean wood will need to be held on sites in separate skips until the results come back, which can take up to 14 days and this includes off household sites if in commercial skips.

“At present, companies only have to test one item per quarter at a cost of around £200. Without RPS 291, companies could be forced to carry out ten tests for every single site or project. So £200 now or potentially £2000 per site – it should be a no brainer.

“Worse than that, we risk losing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste wood which could be recycled, to the wrong outlet, which would not only affect the panel board and biomass sectors but also impact directly on the construction sector’s sustainability and environmental targets. This means that many large construction companies could be acting in conflict with their own ESG statements – something the regulators are also now keen on checking.

“To avoid this happening, companies must act now while RPS 291 still applies. Simply submit one sample per quarter and please, please ensure that you give permission for your laboratories to share the results with the WRA.

“Our WRA members have been submitting samples but they can’t get to the numbers we need on their own – this has to come from the construction and demolition industry.

“For full details on how to comply with RPS 291 and take part in testing, please check out the WRA’s Waste Wood Classification Toolkit or simply get in touch.”



*Amber items of waste wood are from buildings built between 1950 and 2006 and are:

  • Roof timbers
  • Tiling and cladding battens
  • Timber frames and joists

Amber items of waste wood are also from buildings built between 1950 and 1995 and are:

  • barge boards, fascias and soffits
  • external timber cladding
  • external doors
  • external windows

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