Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

  WRAP welcomes the opportunity to submit comments to the Select Committee's Inquiry into the Governments role in promoting the use of timber from sustainable sources.

  The Waste and Resources Action Programme, WRAP, has been created by Government to work with industry, the public sector and the wider community, to promote sustainable waste management by creating markets for recycled products and materials by tackling barriers to the use of these materials. Our mission is to promote more efficient and stable markets for secondary materials and products and improve resource efficiency.

  One of WRAP's key programmes addresses Wood recycling. Whilst forestry management can play a significant role in the renewal of timber, recovery and recycling can also offer vast scope to maximise the potential use of resources. Although our work does not look specifically at the issue of sustainably managed forests and Government procurement of timber from such source, WRAP's wood programme aims to reduce the pressure on primary resources by returning wood waste back to the productive economy and delivering greater overall resource efficiency.

  Excluding recycled wood and waste paper, it is estimated that 46.7 million cubic metres of timber were consumed in the UK in 1999. Of the 2.5 million tonnes of wood waste estimated to be produced from the construction and demolition industries, around 1.2 million tonnes is regarded as reclaimable, of which it is estimated that more than 300,000 tonnes is currently recycled or reclaimed. Waste wood, from the municipal waste stream and collected at civic amenity sites, is estimated to be 280,000 tonnes or 7 per cent of all civic amenity site waste. It is also estimated that a further 140,000 tonnes is collected through household refuse collections. Estimates suggest that over 90 per cent is landfilled or incinerated and less than 10 per cent is reused or recycled. [3]


  WRAP is committed to increasing the recycling of wood and wood based materials by industry in the UK and, to facilitate the development of the UK's recycling infrastructure. We have set a challenging target to achieve 40 per cent recycling and re-use of construction and demolition wood waste a year and to significantly increase wood packaging recovery.

  WRAP's activities therefore include programmes to:

  (i)  stimulate demand for recycled wood products through a marketing and education initiative. This will target individuals responsible for making and influencing purchasing decisions in the construction and local authority sectors, both of which are potentially large consumers of recycled wood products;

  (ii)  produce a research and development programme. To date WRAP has invested £405,000 in four R&D projects on wood. These include:

    —  an analysis of the volume and nature of wood waste residues from the furniture industry for the purpose of identifying and promoting best practice;

    —  developing protocols for sampling and measuring contaminants in both recovered wood as a raw material for panel board manufacture and in the final product. Contamination of mixed wood waste and treated timbers increases the cost of collection and prevents further use. WRAP is therefore developing protocols to measure contaminants to address this issue;

    —  developing a distillation process to enable the recycling of preservative-treated wood waste. WRAP estimates that a large proportion of this waste is not recycled and instead is disposed to landfill; and

    —  studying the geographical area of the M62 corridor to establish the type, volume and sources of wood available for recycling and investigate existing and potential wood recycling activity in the area.

  WRAP also intends to fund further R&D projects which will be targeted at specific wood streams and applications. It will also focus on clear gaps in the wood recycling market that need to be addressed such as accessing less economic sources of recyclable material, increasing the reclamation of wood waste from construction and demolition waste and supporting the development of new wood waste recycling technologies.

  (iii)  WRAP has commissioned a Wood Market Study & Standards Review to assess UK wood flows and markets for wood recycling and to identify any standards and specifications which constitute as barriers to wood recycling. WRAP is looking to publish its findings in the next few months.

  Building on these findings WRAP will establish initiatives to overcome discrimination against recycled wood products and to support the increasing efficiency of the wood waste collection, processing and recycling industry. The use of recycled products is often prohibited because of the lack of any clear defined standard. WRAP will address this issue by working with the end-users and producers to identify the main barriers to recycled wood products.

  (iv)  stimulate investment to increase the amount of recycled wood used in both the panel board sector and other wood recycling applications.

  One of the major barriers to increasing the recycling of wood in the UK is the lack of suitable recycling infrastructure. Therefore, in November 2001 WRAP announced a capital investment competition to boost wood recycling by expanding reprocessing capacity. Following the completion of a competitive tender process, the Board of WRAP authorised negotiations to commence with a small number of prospective recipients of grant funding. Subject to the completion of funding agreements, these initiatives will facilitate significant increases in UK wood recycling capacity in line with WRAP objectives.

May 2002

3   Riddough, S (1999). Wood Residues: Waste or resource? Published by Trada (the Timber Research and Development Agency). Back

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