How hazardous wood can be dangerous to animals.

Jun 17, 2022Article

How hazardous wood can be dangerous to animals.

Jun 17, 2022Article

To avoid adding to landfill, waste wood is often recycled for other purposes. At Twinwoods Heat and Power, wood is used as fuel to generate clean green electricity. But this isn’t the only use for waste wood.

Some wood can be shredded and used for animal bedding. This should only be Grade A wood, which is untreated and considered ‘clean’. This Grade A wood is free from chemicals, paint and other contaminates that can be harmful to the animals using it.

However, a warning from the Environment Agency states that in some cases, Grades B and C, or ‘dirty wood’ has made its way into supplies of animal bedding. Running the risk of illness, injury and even death to pets and livestock.

Animals can be affected by the chemicals in hazardous wood, small animals might be attracted to the bright colours of painted wood and can ingest the shreds.  

Guidance from the Environment Agency explains that under the Environment Permitting Regulations, sites taking shredded waste wood must have a registered U8 exemption. This U8 exemption is used by farmers, wholesalers and retailers and means they are allowed to accept shredded Grade A wood to be used for animal bedding for horses, livestock and even family pets.

However, some retailers and farmers are unknowingly accepting shredded wood that includes hazardous materials, in violation of the U8 Exemptions. This is largely because the wood has not been correctly classified at its source (I.E. on the construction or demolition site that it has come from) and has been incorrectly considered non-hazardous.

Waste wood gradeWhat it includesWhere it comes from
Grade A – clean untreated waste woodOffcuts from untreated timber, packaging waste, scrap pallets (Non-hazardous) virgin timber and untreated boardsWood product manufacturing, secondary manufacturer (I.E. joinery and carpenter workshops and pallet reclamation.)
Grade B – Industrial waste wood – treated and non-hazardousMay contain Grade A materials as above plus building and demolition materials and domestic furniture made from solid wood. (That may include lacquer and resin, paint and other chemicals).As grade A plus construction and demolition operations, skip operators and waste transfer stations.
Grade C – Municipal waste – treated and non-hazardousAll of the above plus flat pack furniture, furniture made from board products and DIY materials. (That may include adhesives, paint and varnish.)As above plus municipal collections, waste transfer stations and household waste recycling centres.
Grade D – Hazardous waste woodAgricultural fencing, railways sleepers, telegraph poles, pallets that have been treated with hazardous chemicals and cooling towers.All of the above plus agricultural sources, fencing, heavy industry trackwork and transmission pole contractors.

You can find out more about the different grades of waste wood here.

The Environment agency has indicated that it is going to be implementing stricter penalties for companies that fail to meet their obligations when it comes to the correct classification and disposal of waste wood. Demolition companies, waste handlers and even waste transfer stations can all expect to receive large fines if they don’t correctly classify and dispose of their waste wood.

Any wood that is considered hazardous, and mixed loads of hazardous and non-hazardous wood, should not make its way into animal bedding. Instead, it should be disposed of with a reputable and correctly licensed facility who can recycle the wood in other ways.