Wood recycling surges but tonnes still wasted by the million

The recycling of wood has almost doubled in the past decade but the vast majority is still going to waste.

According to figures released by the Waste Recycling Action Programme (WRAP) more than 1.2 million tonnes of waste wood were recycled last year, and 85% increase on 1996.

But the UK is now producing over 10 million tonnes of wood waste per year and while new avenues are opening up as the recycling industry branches out there is still a lot to be done.

An in-depth study carried out by WRAP, Wood waste arisings and management, suggests that while the industry has now put down solid roots it still has more than enough room to grow.

The wood tracks the sources of waste wood as well as how and where it is being reused.

Woodchip for bedding, mulching and pathways appears to be a huge growth area, accounting for just 5% of recycled wood in 2003 but by the following year that figure was up to 14%.

Despite efforts to cut down on packaging, both through legislation and genuine effort from the commercial sector (see related story), 56% of waste wood still comes from pallets, crates and other packaging materials.

A further quarter comes from discarded chipboard and other panelling while a still significant 12% comes from furniture manufacture and 4% from products for the construction industry.

Tom Fourcade, materials sector manager for wood at WRAP, said: "Ten years ago there was no significant wood recycling taking place in the UK, however in recent years we have made significant progress.

"It is extremely encouraging to see new markets open up, however we need to maintain the momentum in the coming years as demand for wood-based products continues to burgeon.

"We believe this report to be one of the most comprehensive ever to be carried out into the wood waste arisings market.

"Having analysed data produced over the past decade we now have a true understanding of the levels of wood waste being produced in different sectors and the predominant recycling routes.

"This knowledge will enable us to continue to support the UK's wood recycling sector over the coming years."

A summary of the report can be found on the WRAP website here.

By Sam Bond



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