Regulation Changes Set to Affect Wood Waste Recycling

Changes to the classification of ten waste wood items will come into play from 1 September 2023 in the UK. The new classification of these products as hazardous and potentially hazardous waste will affect both producers of waste wood (businesses) and recyclers. Understand the updated regulations to ensure the proper disposal of your wood waste.

The regulatory changes follow around five years of work and testing by the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) to determine the hazardous waste content of various waste wood products. They mainly affect ‘amber’ waste wood items from the construction and demolition (C&D) sectors, though it could impact some other industries.

Learn all about these changes to wood waste regulations and what your business might need to do to ensure the safe, legal, and responsible disposal of your wood waste.

wood timber roof.

What are the wood 
waste regulation changes?

The Environment Agency (EA) is changing its regulation by withdrawing Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) 250 from 1 September 2023. It means ten wood items from buildings constructed before 2007 will now classify as types of hazardous waste. Wood recyclers won’t accept them unless they’ve undergone appropriate tests to prove they’re not hazardous.

RPS 250 was introduced in July 2021 to allow potentially hazardous ‘amber’ waste wood items from the construction and demolition waste stream to be moved and processed as non-hazardous. Under these new changes, they’ll automatically classify as hazardous waste and require specialist hazardous waste disposal.

The withdrawal of RPS 250 is happening after successful work by the WRA and UK regulators. They’ve collected evidence over five years as part of its Waste Wood Classification Project, which reduced the list of potentially hazardous C&D amber items to ten.

What types of wood waste 
now classify as hazardous?

Ten items of waste wood from pre-2007 buildings now classify as hazardous:

  • Barge boards
  • External fascia
  • Soffit boards
  • External joinery
  • External doors
  • Roof timber
  • Tiling cladding
  • Tiling battens
  • Timber frames
  • Timber joists

There are four grades of wood waste that all classify as hazardous, non-hazardous, or potentially hazardous:

  • Grade A – the cleanest wood type that is not hazardous waste and includes the likes of pallets, packaging crates, and joinery offcuts.
  • Grade B and C – may contain potentially hazardous wood so might require testing before disposal. This can include furniture, wooden fittings, and chipboard.
  • Grade D – is always classed as hazardous waste and can include wood types found in fencing, railway sleepers, and cooling towers.
Explore all types of hazardous waste

What do the wood waste regulation changes 
mean for my waste wood collections?

If your organisation produces any of the ten types of waste wood items from pre-2007 buildings they’ll now be treated as hazardous waste. This means you can’t dispose of the likes of external doors or roof timber from pre-2007 buildings with the rest of your wood waste.

Instead, you’ll have to book a separate hazardous waste collection for any of these ten items or arrange suitable testing. You can organise testing of your waste wood items and if it’s proven to not contain any hazardous elements then you can recycle it with the rest of your wood as normal. Confirmation of the test and results must be sent to the wood recyclers.

Research by the WRA estimates that less than 1% of waste wood from C&D activities will contain hazardous content. This represents a small amount of UK waste wood production of around 4,000 tonnes in total. The amount of these potentially hazardous waste wood items is also predicted to fall over time due to newer buildings being constructed and continued testing.

old wooden door in building.

Is household wood waste affected 
by these updated regulations?

Household wood waste is regulated by RPS 249. This covers when household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) can accept domestic hazardous waste wood and store it with non-hazardous household waste wood. It was introduced on 1 August 2021 and will be withdrawn by 1 April 2024.

Testing of household wood waste is ongoing. The WRA is currently sampling and testing household waste wood types, with expectations that it may confirm hazardous content is falling and expected to disappear. If you currently have domestic wood waste to recycle, check with your local HWRC for what they accept.

Why can’t wood recyclers 
take all my waste wood?

The regulation changes mean most wood recyclers will update their acceptance criteria to exclude the ten types of hazardous wood waste. This is because most wood recyclers don’t have the facilities to dispose of hazardous waste. Upgrading to accept and dispose of hazardous waste properly would come at a great cost to most wood recyclers to deal with only a small amount of waste.

Wood recyclers will continue to accept most non-hazardous wood waste. They can also take and recycle any of the ten potentially hazardous wood waste items if they’ve been tested and certified as non-hazardous. Disposing of hazardous wood waste through proper channels reduces the risk of contamination and ensures safe, legal, and responsible disposal.

logs piled up in barn.

Arrange waste wood collection and disposal

Book removal of any type and amount of waste wood your organisation creates anywhere in the UK with Business Waste. We can provide free bins and containers to store your waste wood securely on-site – you only pay for collection. All wood waste is diverted away from landfill where possible.

Our experts can advise on whether your wood may be potentially hazardous and work out the best solution for its disposal. Get in touch for a free quote for commercial wood waste collection today. Contact us online or call 0800 211 8390 and speak to one of our friendly team about your wood waste.

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