So, what exactly have we been up to?
2023 has seen a successful UKAS audit against ISO17025 and MCERTS, with a strong focus on continual improvement, culminating in a number of extensions to our capabilities and schedule of accreditation.
Following significant investment in both the lab teams and instrumentation, we have added to our routine service offering (all under Kens watchful eye…)
- 2 new GCMS systems to extend capacity for PAH, SVOC, PCB analysis, with a successful application for the extension of our ISO17025 and MCERTS accreditation for PAHs in Soil.
- Setting up and accreditation to ISO17025 and MCERTS of a new ICPOES methodology for the analysis of metals in soil. Previously based on ICPMS, we have set a new robust soils analysis method on a brand-new instrument, cross validated on our existing system to provide a greater capacity for analysis combined with the faster run time available with OES to allow us greater flexibility in our service delivery and a more resilient service.
- To complement the soils analysis, we have a new ICPMS method for the testing of metals in waters (Groundwater, Surface Water, Effluent, Prepared Leachate and Landfill Leachate) which was successfully accredited to ISO17025, and the purchase of a second instrument to add further depth to our ongoing capacity.
- Accreditation of a new Discrete Analyser to improve scope and automation in the testing of anions and nutrients in both soils and waters. Analysis covered include Chromium VI, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Chloride, Fluoride, Sulphate, Phosphate, Oxides of Nitrogen and Alkalinity. Accreditation has been conferred on a range of testing (see our UKAS schedule of accreditation for full details)
Doesn’t do to let the grass grow under your feet, so the next set of projects taking us into the New Year include:
- TPHCWG: As well as a recent exercise to re-assess levels of detection in soil, we are also performing a full validation with the intent to obtain accreditation to ISO17025 and MCERTS for our GCxGC method in soil, covering the Aliphatic and Aromatic hydrocarbon bands from C10 to C35. We hope to submit the Extension to Scope (ETS) this year, with accreditation to follow in 2024.
- Re-accreditation of our soils PCB method to MCERTS – following the purchase of some new instrumentation, we’re progressing a submission to re-add MCERTS accreditation to our PCB method in early 2024.
- More automation: in line with our principles of Lean management, continual improvement and efficiency we will this month take delivery of a new robotic titration system which will allow the automation of multiple titrimetric analyses, bring more operational efficiency and capacity.
- More BTEX: another area we’re investing heavily is expanding the instrumental platform for the analysis of BTEX and VPH (C5 – C10 Petroleum Hydrocarbons) with the additional of two new instruments (one in the building and another on its way) so we can complement the growing scope of accreditation in the area of TPH with additional capacity and higher throughput.
- Not content with new methods for routine metals, we’re also putting the new ICPOES to work adding accreditation for Water Soluble Boron and Water and Acid Soluble Sulphates to increase capacity and resilience.
It’s fast-approaching the holiday season and we want to give you all the information you need to make the most of us. Use the following information for a day-by-day breakdown of how Chemtech will be operating for the final few weeks of 2023.
The laboratory will be running a full analytical service up to and including the morning of Friday 22nd December. Please note the last day for dropping samples off at the lab is Thursday 21st December. Please ensure any samples are received at the laboratory before Friday 22nd December or after Tuesday 2nd January as we will be closed during this time and will not be able to receive samples.
|Monday 11th December||Normal laboratory service (last courier collection for jobs to be reported before Christmas)|
|Tuesday 12th December||Normal laboratory service (last Chemtech driver collection for jobs to be reported before Christmas)|
|Wednesday 13th December||Normal laboratory service (last day to drop samples at Chemtech for jobs to be reported before Christmas)|
|Thursday 14th December||Normal laboratory service|
|Friday 15th December||Normal laboratory service|
|Monday 18th December||Normal laboratory service (last day for courier collections)|
|Tuesday 19th December||Normal laboratory service|
|Wednesday 20th December||Normal laboratory service (last day for sample submission)|
|Thursday 21st December||Normal laboratory service (last day to drop samples off)|
|Friday 22nd December||Normal laboratory service until 13:00|
|Tuesday 26th December||Bank holiday – laboratory closed|
|Wednesday 27th December||Bank holiday – laboratory closed|
|Thursday 28th December||Laboratory closed|
|Friday 29th December||Laboratory closed|
|Monday 1st January||Bank holiday – laboratory closed|
|Tuesday 2nd January||Courier collections and normal laboratory service resume|
The waste wood industry has been under Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) 250 since 2021, which applied to hazardous waste wood removed from domestic premises and demolition sites and its route of disposal. On 1 September 2023, RPS 250 was removed, leading to changes in waste wood handling regulations. What does this mean for waste wood operators?
How has RPS 250 shaped the waste wood landscape?
RPS 250 enabled operators to continue disposing of construction and demolition (C&D) wood waste at waste transfer stations, and/or mix hazardous with non-hazardous waste wood at a processing site, for the past two years. This meant that it could be disposed of under a mirror non-hazardous waste code.
The Environment Agency implemented this on 31 August 2021, giving the waste wood industry two years to understand the quantities and types of hazardous waste wood arising from construction and demolition activity. This also allowed waste wood storage and processing businesses to apply for a permit variation to accept hazardous waste wood if there is a market need.
In response to this, the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) was proactive in encouraging its members to sample waste wood and submit it for analysis. This aimed to determine how hazardous our waste wood really is in the UK in general and determine the market requirement for alternative disposal options.
The EA identified two wood waste streams as containing potentially hazardous materials: household recycled wood (such as fenceposts and decking) and C&D wood from pre-2007 buildings (including barge boards, fascia board, soffit board, external joinery from wooden windows and conservatories, external doors, roof timbers, tiling battens, cladding battens, timber frames, and timber joists).
To identify hazardous materials in waste wood, the WRA, using WM3 technical guidance, created test suites for both waste streams that target the contaminants of concern.
- WRA01: specific to household recycled wood. Focuses only on moisture content and select heavy metals. Household materials (such as fenceposts and decking) are covered separately by RPS 249, which will remain in place until April 2024.
- WRA02: for C&D wood. Includes the same analysis for moisture content and select heavy metals, as well as polyaromatic hydrocarbons and select organochlorine pesticides.
What’s all the fuss about?
The EA is concerned that, as pre-2007 homes are renovated or demolished, the wood that ends up at waste transfer stations could be treated with creosote, or other varnishes and paints containing heavy metals and pesticides, which are harmful to human health and the environment. Whilst there is now guidance that prohibits dangerous chemicals being used in the manufacture of wood treatment products, the EA has to ensure that wood from pre-2007 buildings is disposed of properly to avoid these products entering our environment. The same applies to household recycled waste wood.
By classifying waste wood, we can identify which items are hazardous in accordance with WM3 guidance and ensure they are dealt with appropriately and safely. This also helps producers, carriers and disposers maintain compliance whilst protecting the environment.
Why was RPS 250 removed and what does this mean for waste operators?
The WRA funded the trial analysis of samples collected by its members. Whilst a significant amount of data was collected for household fence posts and decking (which is still ongoing), the WRA did not receive enough C&D derived wood to determine concentrations of hazardous substances in this waste stream. As a result, the EA withdrew RPS 250 as planned on 1 September 2023.
This means that certain waste wood categories, which would have previously been sent to wood recyclers, will now need to be classified as hazardous waste unless analysed to prove that it is non-hazardous. If it is classified as hazardous, it will need to be disposed of at a suitably permitted facility.
As of 1 September 2023, the WRA02 test suite is now mandatory to ensure the correct disposal route for all potentially hazardous C&D waste wood items. Essentially, all demolition waste wood will now be classified as hazardous unless analysed to prove otherwise—meaning that there’s a lot more testing required for the waste wood sector.
We would encourage all wood waste producers to share data with the WRA, whether you are a member or not. This ensures that sufficient evidence can be collated to accurately determine the presence of hazardous properties in the wood waste stream, so that this new legislation can be reviewed at a later date by the EA.
Our sister lab, Marchwood, is one of only three WRA member laboratories who offer both the WRA01 and WRA02 UKAS accredited test suites. Drop us a line to find out more.
Whether RPS211 is withdrawn or not next month (answers on a postcard please), there’s little doubt that the analysis and detection of coal tar has seen a significant increase in the last few years. In the latest issue of the AGS Magazine, Will Fardon, Technical Director at Chemtech, discusses some of the considerations and pitfalls when selecting appropriate testing for the black stuff. Click below to read the article in full.
AGS is a FREE magazine from the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists focusing on geotechnics, engineering geology and geoenvironmental engineering.
We’re currently experiencing unprecedented levels of work owing to wider issues in the industry; namely several labs losing UKAS accreditation in their organics departments.
This unexpected influx of work is impacting our usually reliable service delivery. We’re working very hard to try and get ahead of work, but the reality is that currently we’re not able to reliably hit our usual 5-day turnaround.
As such we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily increase our standard turnaround to 7-days to better manage customer expectations.
Service delivery moving forward
We have acquired several new pieces of instrumentation which will allow us to increase our capacity and deliver a high standard of on time delivery. The process associated with accrediting new pieces of equipment, or methods, takes several months. This is a combination of procuring the equipment, validating upon arrival, and then consulting with our accrediting body (UKAS). In the interim, we can offer the use of these instruments on an unaccredited basis in order to speed up the delivery of work.
The instruments/methods are:
- PAHs: we have implemented a new GCMS to mirror those currently in use. It runs the identical methodology under the same conditions with no changes to levels of detection
- BTEX: we have an equivalent instrument and use the same methodology and operational criteria so no changes to detection limits will be seen
- Anions/Colorimetric Determinations including Chloride, Fluoride, Sulphate, TON, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Hexavalent Chromium and Alkalinity: we have implemented a new automated technology which will combine several pre-existing colorimetric and Ion Chromatography methods. This type of discrete analyser is common within industry and represents an increase in capacity and improvement in most detection limits (see below)
|Analyte||Existing LoD||New LoD|
|Chloride||0.5 mg/l||0.4 mg/l|
|Fluoride||0.1 mg/l||0.07 mg/l|
|Sulphate||1.7 mg/l||0.3 mg/l|
|TON||0.2 mg/l||0.2 mg/l|
|Nitrate||0.1 mg/l||0.2 mg/l|
|Nitrite||0.1 mg/l||0.5 mg/l|
|Ammoniacal Nitrogen||12 ug/l||0.03 mg/l|
|Hexavalent Chromium||10 ug/l||1.5 ug/l|
|Alkalinity||2 mg/l||1 mg/l|
In all methods we continue to operate under the wider accreditation of our ISO 17025 Quality management System. We will run all samples using the same quality assurance and quality control processes as we do for the accredited methods, and in the case of the PAH/BTEX running an identical methodology to that covered in our scope of accreditation.
If you would like to discuss the opportunity of switching to unaccredited testing to maintain 5-day turnaround, please get in touch.
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