Biomass demand for waste wood soars in 2018

The amount of processed waste wood in the UK being used in the biomass sector jumped by 24% to 2.1 million tonnes in 2018.  But, less waste wood is arising overall with total volumes falling by 500,000 tonnes last year to 4.5 million tonnes.

Compiled via an annual survey of all its members, the biomass and volume numbers come from Wood Recyclers Association statistics released this week. These are seen as giving the clearest indication of the waste wood market as there is no government data and members of the Association represent more than 90% of the market.

Total waste wood on the market fell by 500,000 tonnes in 2018, the WRA statistics show


The data shows that biomass now accounts for more than 56% of the processed waste wood market usage, up from 46% in 2017 (all figures per calendar year). The processed waste wood market produced 3.75 million tonnes with the remaining 750,000 tonnes are seen as lost to landfill or to unreported routes which could include additional processing facilities.

With the export market taking 8% of production primarily for biomass, the overall amount of waste wood going for burning in biomass plants now represents nearly two thirds of all waste wood processed.

UK market

The WRA ascribes the downturn in overall arisings in 2018 to a “fluctuating economic activity including a slight downturn in construction and DIY”.

The WRA’s wood processing members actually handled slightly more material at 3.75 million tonnes, an increase of 1.43% from 2017 while the panel board and other recycling and re-use markets have dropped by a combined 11%.


Looking at tonnages, biomass increased from 1.7m to 2.1m tonnes in 2018. A further 1.35m tonnes was recycled or reused into products including animal bedding, UK panel board feedstock and landscaping surfaces in 2018, down 20% from 1.7 million in 2017.

The amount exported remained largely static at around the 300,000 tonne mark. According to the WRA, this was due to the fact that “the UK was processing for planned biomass plants that faced delays in commissioning, so the fuel continued to be exported”.

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