A short extract from TRADA’s Wood Information Sheet Recovering and minimising waste wood, 2020. It includes detailed information on waste wood arisings, forms of waste wood, the need to reduce landfill, disposal considerations, present and future markets for waste wood, the biomass market and the future of wood recycling.

Wood and wood-based products are used in a wide range of applications, some with service lives of many decades before they enter the waste stream. However, it is only since the mid-1990s that an industry has emerged to recycle waste wood, where qualities such as a low moisture content compared with virgin wood have made recycled wood fibre popular for a variety of applications.
The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) estimates that current annual UK waste wood arisings are in the order of 4.5 million tonnes.
Of the wood recycled annually in the UK, the major applications are for biomass as a fuel for energy production, followed by wood- based panel manufacture.
The market for biomass fuels is expanding rapidly, to such an extent that waste wood will be increasingly demanded as a fuel. This may have a wider impact on current recycling and reuse options.
The WRA has classified waste wood in a system that enables most of it to be streamed to an appropriate application. The waste hierarchy, which ranks prevention as the ideal and disposal as the least desired outcome, is now embodied in Waste Regulations and governs how all those involved with waste must behave.
It is self-evident that the UK needs to rely less on landfill for disposal, due to both lack of space and the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with biodegradable materials. However, recent research suggests that wood in landfill may not produce greenhouse gases to the extent previously thought.
The wood recycling sector has grown dramatically over recent years towards a position where an ever-increasing proportion of the waste wood stream is recycled, and an increasingly mature recycling industry operates within a regulatory framework.
It is anticipated that an increasing proportion of the waste wood stream will continue to be recycled and established markets for recycled wood will continue to be serviced. Demand for biomass, however, is expected to rise significantly requiring the importing of waste wood to meet demand.

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