Waste Wood Processing Volumes Reach Record Levels in 2022
waste wood -

The amount of waste wood sent to biomass plants helped waste wood processing volumes hit record levels in 2022. The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) have published annual statistics that show an increase in UK wood recycling volumes from 4.17 million tonnes in 2021 to 4.31 million tonnes in 2022.

The largest proportion of waste wood was used for biomass fuel, accounting for 63% of the total volumes processed. The WRA comments that this is a 7% increase when compared to 2021, and can be attributed to increased demand due to high gas and oil prices and also more interest in alternative fuel sources, driven by the threat from Russia. 

Higher demand for energy across Europe also led to a net increase of 21% in exports, amounting to 130,000 tonnes. In other areas, there was a slight decline in the use of waste wood for animal bedding and equine surfaces, falling from 350,000 tonnes in 2021 to 322,000 tonnes in 2022. 

The second largest use of waste wood after biomass is for panel board, accounting for 24% of total materials processed. This figure decreased by 3.6% compared to 2021 figures, which can be attributed to fewer DIY projects being carried out as the lockdown restrictions were eased. 

Richard Coulson, Chair of the WRA, said: “The industry continued to grow in 2022 despite a challenging economic climate with another record amount of waste wood processed. Waste wood arisings and the amount sent to these end markets appear to have stabilised following Covid and show we are moving closer to having markets for all waste wood.”

“I was particularly pleased to see that wood reuse was up again, by 19% year-on-year, to 20,655 tonnes.”

He added: “For 2023 the UK waste wood market is in great shape with well-developed markets for all arisings, including lower grade/mixed waste wood. We are confident that more and more of the unreported waste wood will find its way to our members and we will be closer in 2023 to achieving full capacity.”

“This will mean 3 million tonnes of waste wood going to Chapter IV compliant biomass, just over 1 million tonnes into panel board manufacture, 500,000 tonnes of clean untreated material for animal bedding and other high value recycling and small-scale biomass and reuse continuing to grow.”

The WRA members account for over 90% of waste wood processed in the UK. The country generates about 450,0000 tonnes of waste per year, most of which is either recycled, converted into biomass, or exported. Over 2.5 million tonnes of processed waste wood are sent to biomass production sites each year. 

The market for waste wood as a biofuel source is expected to grow as alternatives to fossil fuels are sought. Waste wood biomass accounts for about 1% of the UK’s annual power consumption and is a part of the country’s energy security network. 

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