THE Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) has welcomed the latest guidance from DEFRA which encourages the re-opening of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) where safe to do so.
And it is calling on the operators of the HWRCs to put together a plan of action to explain how this can be safely and practicably achieved and within what timescale.
Andy Hill, chair of the WRA, said it is crucial the waste and recycling sector begins to plan ahead for when the UK moves out of lockdown and industry begins to go back to work.
“The re-opening of HWRCs is not something that can happen overnight for many valid reasons,” said Andy.
“However, we need to begin to plan an exit strategy to allow us to move out of this period as smoothly and effectively as possible when the time is right. To help with that we are asking the HWRC operators and local authorities to provide an indication of timescales for the re-opening of HWRCs in a safe and timely manner.
“We are also going to be asking DEFRA to give HWRCs a high priority in its exit strategy, and to carefully consider the flow of waste wood so that we can get the sector back up and running again as soon possible after lockdown.”
The waste wood market has been hit hard by the closure of HWRCs, as well as the temporary shutdown of many industries that feed wood into the market place, including construction.
A survey of WRA Members last week found that:
- wood recyclers have seen an average of 80% drop in feedstock supply since the lockdown commenced, causing significant financial stress on all parts of the supply chain, including the processors and end consumers such as the biomass plants requiring fuel;
- all panel board manufacturers have temporarily shut down. This is due to problems with the supply chain on both sides of their business (ie: raw materials and end product demand);
- biomass members are facing the prospect of shutting down their plants for an interim period;
- WRA members have real concerns for the recycled wood supply next winter as the summer period is the time for building stocks for winter supply;
- wood recyclers surveyed were operating on a skeleton staff;
- an average of 50-60% of staff across wood recyclers have been furloughed;
- Grade C waste wood has been affected the most due to the closure of HWRCs; and
- animal bedding is also a concern as raw material for this has dried up (grade A packaging wood).
The WRA is also asking that where some HWRC sites have remained open through the current lockdown, that best practice from these sites is shared with the other HWRC operators in order to enable the re-opening as soon as is practicably possible.
“Although over 90% of HWRCs have been closed we know there are still some counties operating them. It would be good to understand how they are managing and what planning they have put in place to enable them to remain open,” added Andy.