24 June 2020 by James Langley

Waste wood exports fall by 39% in 2019

Exports of waste wood from the UK fell by 39% in 2019, a survey from the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) shows, as demand from the domestic panel board and biomass sector increased.

The annual statistics give 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.

Members of the WRA represent more than 90% of the waste wood market

Other standout figures from the data, which covers the 2019 calendar year, show the amount of waste wood processed in the UK rose by 6% to 3.98 million tonnes.

Julia Turner, executive director of the WRA, said: “We hope that such a healthy end to 2019 will stand us in good stead for surviving the impact of Covid-19, and are thrilled to see that with an estimated 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood available in the UK, so much of it is now being recycled or reprocessed.”

The survey showed WRA members alone processed more than 3.5 million tonnes of waste wood in 2019. This is an increase of 4.3% from 2018, when 3.4 million tonnes were processed.

The WRA estimates this would take the UK’s total waste wood processing figure to 3.98 million tonnes.

Graph showing the destinations of waste wood processed by WRA members in tonnes

Earlier this month, delegates attending the WRA online summer meeting were told the waste wood sector faced a lengthy recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (see letsrecycle.com story).

Biomass

The WRA says its survey showed that waste wood going into Chapter IV biomass rose by almost 14% to 2.39 million tonnes. The WRA says this was “as expected”.

Graph showing estimated tonnages of waste wood for the whole of the UK waste wood market

The amount of waste wood processed into small scale biomass increased by almost 39% across the UK, the WRA estimates.

UK market

The amount of waste wood processed into the panel board industry rose by 6% among WRA members, equating to an increase of around 12% across the UK, the WRA estimates.

Meanwhile, the amount of waste wood processed into animal bedding, equine surfaces and other recycled products dropped by almost 5% among WRA members. This equates to an estimated decrease of 18% across the UK.

Mrs Turner said: “We suspect there is a correlation between the decrease in waste wood being processed into animal bedding and the increase into panel board and small-scale biomass, as both of these use Grade A packaging materials.

Graph showing estimated for waste wood for the whole of the UK waste wood market as percentages

“We are also seeing a realisation of imports of waste wood starting and estimate around 20,000 tonnes came into the UK last year. We expect that to continue to grow this year.”

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