The WRA has welcomed DEFRA’s consultation on Extended Producer Responsibility on Packaging which was launched yesterday (Wednesday).

While it is clear that the majority of the consultation focuses on household packaging rather than commercial packaging, it does include a section on wood and is proposing changes  to reporting requirements for reprocessors as well as looking at completely new approaches to the payment for management of packaging waste from businesses – all of which will have implications for our members.

We will be speaking to our members about their views on the options contained within the consultation and will compose a response before the closing date. However, whatever our final response is, we will again be reiterating the point that we do not understand why the Government is again proposing  wood packaging recycling targets for 2023 and beyond well below  the 48% which was in place in 2020 and which was being easily achieved.

Reducing the targets automatically threatens the amount of waste wood processed as recycling as opposed to recovery, and will inevitably lead to valuable waste wood which could have been reused or recycled,  ending up in Chapter IV compliant biomass boilers due to reduced segregation.

We were told last year that the drive to reduce the wood packaging recycling targets was to fall in line with our European counterparts, when in fact in the UK we have long-established, developed markets for higher grade recycled waste wood packaging including panel board manufacturing and animal bedding, unlike in Europe where material is more likely to be burnt.

What we now know is that in some European countries, particularly Germany, targets for recycling waste wood packaging is increasing to 40% from 2023 and going up to 60% in 2025. 

If the UK does not act quickly to reverse its decision to reduce our targets, we face  going backwards and being behind Europe when we already had a good head start in place.

The UK’s waste wood market is currently structured perfectly for environmental compliance, with a total of 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood arising per year of which 3 million tonnes could go to  to Chapter IV compliant biomass, 1 million tonnes destined for panel board manufacturing and 500,000 tonnes for animal bedding, equine surfacing, small-scale biomass and reuse. That means 1.5 million tonnes is currently recycled and we would not want to see that figure decrease because there is no incentive to segregate the higher grade woods for recycling or reuse.

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