An increase in the amount of waste wood sent to biomass plants in 2022 meant there was a “record amount” of waste wood processed in the UK, annual statistics published by the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) have shown.
The figures show the amount of waste wood processed in the UK rose from 4.17 million tonnes in 2021 to 4.31 million tonnes last year. The total amount of waste wood arising was constant at 4.5 million tonnes.
The remainder of the 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood arising in the UK, around 190,000 tonnes goes to informal markets, such as being burnt at bonfire night, burnt at home or at company’s own premises and a “very small amount” still goes to landfill.
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.”
Large scale biomass remained the largest user of waste wood during the year, accounting for 63% of total material processed, representing an increase of 7% year-on-year. Demand from this sector was “buoyed by high energy prices and the need for UK energy security due to the war in Ukraine,” the WRA explained.
Panel board was the second largest user of waste wood, accounting for around a quarter (24%) of total material processed. This represented a slight (3.6%) decrease on 2021 when panel board manufacturers produced record volumes of product due to the explosion in DIY projects during lockdown.
Exports with imports netted off increased by 21% in 2022 to 130,000 tonnes, “linked to high demand for energy across Europe”. This however remained below pre-covid levels
Meanwhile, the total amount going to small scale biomass increased from 80,000 tonnes to 90,000 tonnes year-on-year, while high grade material used in animal bedding, or other recycling and reuse, decreased from 350,000 tonnes in 2021 to 322,000.
“This was largely due to poultry bedding production falling because of the Avian Flu pandemic. However, reuse alone was up by 19%, to 20,655 tonnes”.
The figures are compiled by the WRA through its annual survey of members who account for over 90% of waste wood processed in the UK, then extrapolated to build a picture of the UK total. For more about wood recycling click here
Mr Coulson 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.”