27 March 2020 by Joshua Doherty

‘Keep HWRCs open for wood supply’, WRA says

The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) has called on the government to keep open household waste and recycling centres which take in waste wood to safeguard the supply of material for industry. 

A number of local authorities across the UK have closed sites in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic for reasons including safe distancing and operational difficulties.

The association said wood from HWRCs makes up 25% of the 4.5 million tonnes generated in the UK, and it needs to be safeguarded to ensure the panel board and biomass industries can continue to operate.

As reported by letsrecycle.com yesterday, some biomass operators and wood recyclers have expressed fears about the impact of the closure of a number of council recycling centres, saying they could see supplies reducing (see letsrecycle.com story).

The National Grid however told letsrecycle.com that it doesn’t anticipate any power supply shortages brought on by falling biomass supply.

Biomass fuel

The closure of some HWRCs has caused concern in the waste wood sector of potential shortages

According to the WRA,  biomass fuel contributes significantly to the UK’s energy security and the 3.1m tonnes of waste wood biomass is expected to process this year represents around 2.9 TWh of annual power production, enough to supply over 700,000 UK households.

The panel board sector processes circa 900,000 tonnes of recycled waste wood each year and adds £850m to the UK economy, the WRA added. A further 500,000 tonnes goes to other key markets such as animal bedding (poultry and equine).

Defra

In a letter to Chris Preston, deputy director of resources & waste at Defra, the WRA urged the government to re-open Household waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) for waste wood “as soon as is practical”,  and to ensure waste wood is given a “priority status for collection and recycling”. 

Andy Hill, chair of the WRA, said in the letter: “Whilst we fully understand the reasons for the closure of HWRCs,  we are concerned it has resulted in unintended consequences, namely that our wood recyclers and reprocessors are unable to source the raw material they require to keep some crucial industries functioning.

“If this supply stream is stopped the UK’s energy supply could be seriously challenged and availability of materials for the construction industry will be compromised. ” 

“The UK’s energy supply could be seriously challenged.”


Andy Hill,
Chair, Wood Recyclers’ Association

End users

A statement from the WRA yesterday said that the panel board and biomass sectors were highlighted this week by the government as essential to the UK during the coronavirus outbreak – construction and utilities.

Mr Hill added: “We would urge the Government to support our sector by safeguarding waste wood supply in order that we can continue to support these key industries. Turning off the supply of waste wood now will have long-lasting damaging implications in many areas”. 

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