The Environment Agency are proposing that if a load of wood waste contains some hazardous wood waste (GRADE D) contents then the whole load should be treated as if it were hazardous waste.
Implication of change in regulation
- If the Environmental Agency change from their current, lenient position then this could result in all household waste sites having to treat all their wood waste as hazardous and all the additional controls that go with the higher level of regulation.
- The industry could introduce additional sorting and segregation to reduce the cross contamination of the clean and hazardous wood but this would incur significant costs and resources to the industry and in most cases, be impractical.
There are currently 4 classifications of wood:
GRADE A - Clean wood
i. this may be tree trunks and branches from gardening
ii. clean offcuts of untreated wood from timber merchants
iii. untreated wood used to make single use pallets or packaging
End Use: Clean wood can be burnt in energy from waste facilities which do not have to comply with the high standards of the Waste Incineration Directive (WID). It can be shredded as animal bedding or used in remanufacture of other wood products.
GRADE B - mixture of clean wood, wood from construction and demolition waste, and wood from recycling centres
GRADE C - as GRADE B and including panel board, MDF, plywood and other wood products bonded together using a resin or glue and heat treatment.
End Use: Grades B and C can be recycled into lower grade wood products. If Grade C material is used as a fuel it must be processed in a WID compliant incinerator.
GRADE D - wood that has been treated and where the treatment process impregnates the wood with hazardous materials such as creosote or arsenic
End Use: Grade D wood should be disposed of via hazardous landfill or WID compliant incineration
New regulation proposition examples
- If a creosoted fence panel is put into the wood skip at the recycling centre then the whole skip full of waste is then classified as hazardous.
- Anything other than clean wood used for fuel would have to be processed in WID compliant incinerators and only clean wood could be used for animal bedding.
What happens next?
The industry is waiting for the Environment Agency to deliver their verdict on how they are going to tackle this problem. We will keep a watching brief on the situation and keep you informed of the situation as it develops.