The Environment Agency has extended its regulatory position statement (RPS) governing waste wooden fence posts and decking from households, following discussions with the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA).

RPS 249 – which allows household waste recycling centres (HWRCS) to move and process these potentially hazardous items as non-hazardous* – was due to expire at the end of March and has been extended until the end of September 2024.

The move was requested by the WRA to provide more time for the waste wood industry to sample and test this material to confirm what earlier tests have shown, that its hazardous content is diminishing and will no longer be there in future, as these items fall out of the waste stream.

More time is required because fence posts and decking are very hard to find over the Autumn and Winter and are expected to be more abundant over the Spring and Summer.

Under its Waste Wood Classification Project, the WRA has already narrowed down the list of potentially hazardous waste wood items from households to just two and has paid for the testing of hundreds of samples of fence posts and decking from around 40 WRA member sites who receive wood from HWRCs.

However, the association requires a further 2-300 samples from its members or members’ customers to ensure it has a robust evidence base.

Vicki Hughes, Technical Lead on the WRA Board, said: “We welcome the extension of this RPS which we requested to allow more time to identify, sample and test fence posts and decking. These items make up a very small part of the waste stream so it can be challenging to find them, especially in the colder months.

“However, it is imperative that our members who receive wood from HWRCs now take part in identifying, sampling and testing these items, using the WRA01 testing suite. This will give us the evidence we need to draw final conclusions before the RPS is withdrawn at the end of September, allowing us to keep these items in the waste stream rather than having to segregate them as hazardous.”

While the Environment Agency’s extension only applies to England, a similar position has been adopted by regulators in Wales.

There is no change to RPS 291, which governs potentially hazardous waste wood items from construction and demolition.

*The RPS only applies if wood is sent to an Industrial Emissions Directive Chapter IV compliant biomass plant or incinerator, or is used in the manufacture of panel board.

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