15 Februar 2013

Defra decides against ban on sending waste wood to landfill

NNFCC: Government intervention could have created new opportunities for the timber and energy industries

The UK Government have decided against an outright ban on sending waste wood to landfill, that is the conclusion of Defra in its response to evidence provided by industry.

The Government’s call for evidence on the viability of banning wood waste from landfill – which was issued last July – received 37 responses from industry.

Energy and timber trade associations, along with many from the construction industry, were largely supportive of a ban but thought introducing such a system would take time and could be expensive.

Others like waste management companies, raised concerns about the practical difficulties in implementing such a ban, suggesting enforcement would be difficult. In addition, there is currently limited capacity for wood recycling in the UK and it would take five to ten years for energy-from-waste, collection and sorting infrastructure to develop.

Following the concerns raised by industry over the practicalities and costs of introducing a restriction, Defra said on the 14th February that they would not be pursuing a ban. Instead increasing landfill tax would remain the key driver for diverting wood waste from landfill.

Defra said in the response document: “We do not believe that this is the right time to introduce a restriction on wood waste to landfill. We will review and monitor the wood waste area closely and in addition we plan to carry out work to address the remaining gaps in our evidence knowledge base, alongside the action underway by the Environment Agency and WRAP which will help to manage wood waste.”

Defra went on to add that the amount of segregated wood waste being sent to landfill has been falling since 2009 and volumes are currently very low. In addition, non-segregated wood waste has also been falling but the type and quantity of wood waste in mixed streams remains difficult to determine, said Defra. The department concluded that wood waste to landfill is likely to continue to decline without further Government intervention.

In response, NNFCC Chief Executive Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, said: “Continuing to send wood waste to landfill represents a missed opportunity. Introducing an outright ban may have imposed additional costs on some businesses, but a phased ban would have created new opportunities for the timber and energy industries and could have been a significant new source of low carbon heat and power.”

“Remaining sources of waste wood that still go to landfill will be unlikely to decrease without additional drivers. We would now encourage Defra to work closer with industry and other Government departments to promote the diversion of wood waste from landfill and help stimulate the development of the infrastructure needed to support the industry,” he added.

Source: NNFCC, 2013-02-15.

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