The Wood Recyclers’ Association has written to the Welsh Government asking it to take urgent action to safeguard the supply of waste wood, after Wales was put into a 17 day “fire break” lockdown on Friday night.
Andy Hill, Chair of the Association (WRA) said the closure of HWRCs in Wales as part of the lockdown will have a detrimental impact on Welsh businesses who rely on the supply of waste wood to run their operations.
In particular the letter has highlighted WRA member Kronospan, which is the world’s largest producer of wood based panel products. Kronospan is based at Chirk in North Wales and has been operating there since 1973. It has a turnover of £234 million, with 654 employees – 90% of whom live within a 10 miles radius of the site.
It also mentions Margam Green Energy, a Welsh biomass facility which relies on feedstock supply from Welsh recycling centres. The £160 million plant employs around 400 people and generates renewable electricity for up to 75,000 homes in South Wales.
“If the waste wood supply stream is stopped during this lockdown period, the feedstock for these major Welsh businesses will be seriously compromised,” said Andy. “They will lose around 2,500 tonnes of material on top of the losses they have already suffered due to previous Covid-19 restrictions.”
The WRA states in the letter that it understands the need for the lockdown is to protect the lives and livelihoods of Welsh citizens, as well as the NHS, but it asks why safety measures previously used at HWRC sites around the UK during the first lockdown period can’t be used again.
“We know that during the last lockdown measures were put in place to ensure that HWRCs could operate safely and all we are asking is that these same measures are put in place this time,” said Andy. “This would ensure that wood recyclers are able to source the raw material they require to keep these key Welsh businesses and others functioning.”