The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) is working with the Environment Agency (EA) to look at the classification of hazardous waste wood in the UK.

The EA approached the WRA following concerns that lower grade waste wood was being used as a fuel in some non-WID compliant biomass boilers, instead of grade A wood, an issue the WRA itself has been highlighting to its members.

In addition there is new EU guidance coming into force within the next 12 months which will require mixed waste wood streams to be fully assessed at the “front end”, i.e. before they have been processed into a product.

The WRA has now formed a group of industry representatives to work alongside EA officers with the aim of:

  • Better defining what hazardous waste wood is
  • Identifying best practice for front-end assessment by wood recyclers and reprocessors
  • Developing a Code of Practice for the sector.

Andy Hill, Chair of the WRA, said: “It is positive that, following our work with the EA on the issue of fire prevention plans (FPP), they have come to us to proactively discuss this issue and seek advice and opinions from the wood recyclers. No-one should be under any illusion of the potentially significant adverse impact if we don’t collectively find a workable solution to this.

“We are in the very early stages of this project but we are hopeful that we will be able to find an outcome that will satisfy both the EA and the industry as a whole. Most treatments used on wood today will not be hazardous, whilst others will only be hazardous at certain concentrations, so we feel confident we will be able to ensure the WRA leads the way with a set of appropriate standards for defining hazardous wood.”

In the UK over 77% of processed waste wood goes into the two main end uses: energy recovery and panel board. This amounts to 3.8 million tonnes, with an additional 1.6 million tonnes of capacity at new waste wood power plants due to come on stream this year. These facilities are WID compliant and burn the waste wood as a fuel to produce power and/or combined heat & power.

Andy added: “The waste wood sector makes an invaluable contribution to the UK’s energy security and, in conjunction with other current end markets for waste wood such as animal bedding and surfaces, the WRA is confident the new infrastructure will continue to make this market stronger. We are therefore committed to finding a practical solution that works for all parties and raises standards across the waste industry.”

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