Biomass is now largest market for waste wood
13 May 2013
Biomass has overtaken panelboard as the main market for UK recycled woodchip for the first time, according to the latest wood recycling market statistics for 2012 from the Wood Reyclers' Association (WRA).
And, while the figures show a small increase in UK demand for material, they also reveal a 10% fall in recycled wood sent to the export market, in a trend linked to the recession in Europe.
The annual 'Waste wood to market statistics' (see table below), published on Friday (May 10), show that, in total, 2.26 million tonnes of recycled woodchip was sent to UK markets in 2012 – representing a 5.2% increase compared to 2011. The amount sent by WRA members to UK markets increased by 8%.
However, the volume of material sent to export markets fell by 10% during this period from 654,000 tonnes in 2011 to 590,000 tonnes in 2012. This means that overall demand for UK woodchip increased by just 1.7% compared to 2011 (see letsrecyle.com story), to 2.85 million tonnes in 2012.
Commenting on the fall in export demand, the WRA said: “The mild European winter in 2011/12 suppressed demand on the continent, as did the persistent recession in the Eurozone. Exports of panel-board grade suffered slightly more than those of biomass.”
Notably, for the first time ever, the figures show biomass overtaking panelboard as the main end user of recycled woodchip - something which had been anticipated by the sector for some time.
"A fall in exports was to be expected, given the unfavourable climatic and economic circumstances on the Continent, but things improved significantly towards the end of the year"
Andy Hill, Wood Recyclers' Association
When exports are taken into account, approximately 1.25 million tonnes of waste wood was sent to biomass plants to generate energy last year, compared to 1.08 million tonnes to the panelboard industry.
The WRA said that the ‘sharp switch from panel-board to biomass’ was largely influenced by the suspension and eventual closure of Sonae’s Knowsley panelboard mill in late 2012 (see letsrecycle.com story), which had seen material being diverted to biomass instead.
Among the high value markets, there was a trend away from landscaping to animal bedding and tonnages eased back a little. However, these still account for over one quarter of the UK market.
Commenting on the figures, Andy Hill, WRA chairman, said: "Given the difficult economic circumstances, I think we can be pleased with these figures. The contribution of WRA members to the UK wood recycling industry has continued to grow strongly.
“A fall in exports was to be expected, given the unfavourable climatic and economic circumstances on the Continent, but things improved significantly towards the end of the year. A dip in the UK panel-board market was also inevitable. However, UK biomass markets have compensated for this, and high value markets have more or less held their own.
“I expect to see a strong resurgence in both UK and export markets this year. Wood recyclers continue to make a major contribution to both the economy and the environment."
The figures are compiled using data from WRA members. Non-WRA figures are estimated except for panel board, which are provided by the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF).
Waste wood to market statistics 2012
Wood sent to market in UK
|Panel Board||909 (952)||-5%|
|Animal/Poultry Bedding||369 (348)||+6%|
|Equine Surfaces||56 (55)||+2%|
|Mulches, Soil Conditioners
|Pathways and Coverings||9 (10)||-10%|
In addition, WRA members exported 590,000 tonnes of which 492,000 tonnes was destined for biomass and 167,000 for panel-board. This compares to 654,000 in 2011 (-10%) of which 472,000 went to bioass (-5%) and 182,000 for panel-board (-8%).