Draft EA hazardous waste wood guidance welcomed

Draft proposals from the Environment Agency as part of its hazardous waste wood classification project no longer require the separation of fence posts and decking at household waste and recycling centre (HWRCS).

Fears were previously expressed that some waste wood would have to be segregated at HWRCs

In an update, the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) executive director Julia Turner said that after “extremely positive” discussions with the Environment Agency, the most recent proposals are for a “much more risk-based and proportionate approach for both household and demolition waste wood”.

Mrs Turner said the EA has now drafted two new regulatory position statements – one for household and one for demolition waste wood which are currently being updated and reviewed ahead of publication in July.

Howard Leberman, the Environment Agency’s senior advisor for site-based regulation, said: “We appreciate the work the WRA and their working group has done to inform our thinking.  We are near to a risk-based and proportional approach for dealing with hazardous waste wood and will discuss our proposed new positions further before the current Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 207) expires at the end of July 2021.”

“We are near to a risk-based and proportional approach for dealing with hazardous waste wood”

Howard Leberman, Environment Agency


The latest development comes after a previous “impasse” in discussions led to the WRA saying it would “challenge” proposals outlined by the Environment Agency in January.

Then, the WRA was told by the Environment Agency that it planned to extend the current Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 207) —which permits mixed waste wood to continue to be used for panel board manufacture and Chapter IV compliant biomass —until the end of July 2021.

The WRA said at the time that after that, items highlighted as potentially hazardous from both household and demolition sources would have to be identified, separated and consigned. This would have meant that fence posts and decking would have to be segregated at HWRCs and classified as hazardous.

The Association also called for a longer delay while testing work continued.


While the latest proposals won’t have to see decking and fenceposts separated, the WRA has been asked to think about how further periodic testing “could be carried out on these items to prove that the potentially hazardous content is no longer there”.

This means their separation could be reintroduced if testing shows it to be hazardous.

The RPS was introduced in 2017 with the aim of ensuring that waste wood is properly classified at its origin and is processed into appropriate end markets.

It was launched after the European Commission asked the UK to examine why approximately 0.2% of its waste wood was classified as hazardous, while in Germany, for example, it was 15%.

The WRA has been leading the Waste Wood Classification project with the Agency since then, and has been undergoing testing and sampling of potentially hazardous waste wood.

The RPS aims to allow current compliant practises while this work is undertaken.


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