Seeing the wood from the trees… Environment Agency considers classification of waste wood
UK & Europe
Insurance & Reinsurance
“We’re naturally relieved that the RPS has been extended as, due to the current lockdown situation, we are unable to source the remaining waste wood samples needed to complete the testing from HWRCs and demolition sites. We understand the EA is also very busy dealing with the outbreak.”
As the Environment Agency ("EA") provides a further extension of the Regulatory Position Statement ("RPS") until January 2021 to allow completion of the waste wood classification project, we review the current position of testing and what the future may hold for the waste wood industry.
What is the current status?
Although the EA had previously stated that there would be no further extension to the RPS beyond 31 July 2020, the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have led them to reconsider, with a further extension until 31 January 2021 now agreed.
This means that waste wood which has not yet been assessed or classified (other than wood known to be hazardous) can continue to be used for an Industrial Emissions Directive ("IED") Chapter IV compliant permitted incinerator or co-incinerator or the manufacture of board.
Operators must continue to assess and classify wood in line with hazardous wood technical guidance before it is used for any other purpose.
The sampling process continues to progress, with the demolition sector providing a flurry of samples following an appeal from the Wood Recycling Association ("WRA") and the National Federation of Demolition Contractors ("NFDC") earlier this year.
What is the future of waste wood classification?
Julia Turner, Chief Executive of the WRA, has indicated that the WRA will meet with the EA in July to discuss the results of the testing so far. Upon completion of the sampling process two sets of industry guidance will be drafted by the WRA and NFDC.
If the guidance is successfully implemented across the industry then waste wood will be properly classified at the front end of the recycling chain allowing it to be processed for the appropriate end use. A failure to implement the guidance would result in operators having to prove their material is non-hazardous before they are able to move it from their sites, a process which could prove to be costly and time consuming.
Potential enforcement action?
So long as operators continue to operate within the confines of the RPS they should not face enforcement action. However, following the withdrawal of the RPS we would expect to see a flurry of inspections by the EA, highlighting the importance of operators becoming fully familiar with the guidance as soon as it is published.
Non-compliance by operators could see enforcement under the normal pollution legislation. Any enforcement action of this nature would be subject to the environmental sentencing guidelines, potentially resulting in more severe penalties.
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Author: Daniel David, Associate.
 Julia Turner, Executive Director of the WRA- https://woodrecyclers.org/waste-wood-rps-extended-to-january-2021/
 Please see our previous article on this subject: https://www.clydeco.com/blog/insurance-hub/article/environment-agency-considers-classification-of-waste-wood