5 September 2017 by Hera Lorandos

Agency seeks ‘correct classification’ of waste wood

Nicky Cunningham has emphasised that wood should be classified correctly

The Environment Agency has moved to reassure wood recyclers that it is not proposing changes to the classification of waste wood, although it does want it “classified correctly”.

And, responding to concerns that the waste wood market could be disrupted because civic amenity site wood could be deemed hazardous, the Agency has said that temporary risk measures are to be developed.

The Agency position comes in the wake of a meeting between the Wood Recyclers Association and other organisations with the Agency yesterday (5 September).


In a statement Nicky Cunningham, Environment Agency deputy director for waste regulation, said: “We are not proposing changes to the classification of waste wood. As a regulator, we want to make sure that it is being classified correctly, according to the existing rules, so it is disposed of safely, protecting people and the environment.

“We are working with the Wood Recyclers Association and local authorities to improve practices in the sector, and in the interim we are jointly developing temporary measures to manage risk. No decisions have been made yet and we are discussing options to ensure they are suitable and proportionate.”

“Everyone in the waste chain has a responsibility to describe and check it properly so that waste wood ends up in the right place.”

And, the Agency deputy director noted that “By law, all waste needs to be accurately described and we have provided guidance on waste classification on our website” – Waste Classification Technical Guidance.


The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) said the meeting with the Agency was a ‘success’ over proposals to change waste wood classification.

The Association discussed concerns with the Agency on the recording of mixed waste wood at the front end of the wood recycling and recovery process.

The meeting follows a letter sent by the organisations outlining their concerns, in particular what was seen as the EA’s recommendation that any item of treated waste wood, that has not been assessed appropriately, should be classified as hazardous waste. This could result in classifying entire mixed waste loads as hazardous (see letsrecycle.com story).


Wood Recyclers Association chief executive, Julia Turner, described the meeting as successful

Julia Turner, executive director of the WRA said: “Following the letter sent by the WRA and other industry experts, our meeting with the Environment Agency was very successful.

“The Agency understands our concerns and is happy to work closely with us and find a solution that is not detrimental to the industry. The WRA will now carry out more formalised structured tests on the levels of hazardous waste.”


WRA members have been carrying out tests at their sites and have indicated to the agency that 0.01% to 0.02% of total waste received during the past month as having been hazardous.

According to the association, the EA is concerned that treated waste wood is being classified as untreated, clean grade A material and ending up in non Industrials Emissions Directive Chapter IV-compliant boilers.


A further factor in the talks is thought to centre around the potential for fraud in some instances regarding the usage of illegal cheaper, poorer quality wood in boilers which aren’t WID compliant and may be attracting government subsidies and incentives.


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