Disposal of wood waste

These are:

  • Grade A – the cleanest wood type; it is non-hazardous waste and includes wood from pallets, packaging crates, and joinery offcuts.
  • Grade B and C – may contain potentially hazardous wood, so requires further testing before disposal. This includes wood from 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.

The Environment Agency recently changed its regulations on the disposal of wood waste by withdrawing Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) 250 from 1 September 2023. This allowed potentially hazardous waste wood items from construction and demolition to be moved and processed as non-hazardous waste.
This change means that ten types of wood from buildings constructed before 2007 are now classified as hazardous waste within Grade D. Therefore, wood recyclers will not accept them unless they have undergone appropriate tests to prove they are not hazardous. This testing must be done by the producer of the waste, so the University is responsible for organising testing of its wood waste.

Ten kinds of waste wood from pre-2007 buildings are now classified as hazardous:

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

These types of wood from buildings constructed before 2007 are now treated as hazardous waste and can no longer be disposed of with other wood waste.

This means departments cannot dispose of items like external doors or roof timber from pre-2007 buildings with the rest of their wood waste.
Instead, they must book a separate hazardous waste collection for items from these ten categories, or arrange suitable testing for dangerous chemicals if they believe they are not hazardous. 

This testing must be done by an organisation with suitable laboratory facilities, such as Socotec UK.

If testing shows that wood waste contains no hazardous elements despite belonging to one or more of the categories above, it can be recycled with other wood waste as normal. Confirmation of the testing that has been done and its results must be sent to the wood recycler. 

If the testing finds hazardous chemicals, a separate hazardous waste collection must be arranged. Select Environmental Services, the University’s main waste contractor, has secure disposal outlets for hazardous wood materials.

Research by the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) estimates that less than 1% of waste wood from construction and demolition activities will contain hazardous chemicals. This represents a small proportion of UK waste wood production – around 4,000 tonnes in total. The amount of potentially hazardous waste wood items is expected to fall over time as testing continues and as new construction projects incorporate smaller amounts of potentially hazardous wood. For further guidance see the WRA website.

What makes wood hazardous?

Many chemicals, coverings and treatments can make wood hazardous. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Paints
  • Paint thinners
  • Gloss, lacquer
  • Epoxy resin
  • Varnish
  • Adhesives
  • Wood stain
  • Solvents
  • Chromated arsenicals
  • Creosote
  • Pentachlorophenol

Contact us

Max Horner, FM Contracts Manager

07775 026875