Both Mark Hayton, director of Egger Timberpak, and Alan Webb, managing director of JM Envirofuels, said the issue needed to be tackled to ensure recyclers were not exporting material during the summer months that they would later need in the winter.
The session was chaired by Richard Coulson, chair of the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA). He began the session by giving an overview of the waste wood industry and predicted that overall waste wood volumes would be around 4.2 million in 2021, up from around 3.8 million last year.
He said with biomass plants upping capacity and demand from the panelboard industry maintaining strength, the waste wood industry is “structured perfectly” to process material domestically, without the need for export.
The issue of storage was first raised by Mr Webb of JM Envirofuels, who is also a member of the WRA board.
He explained that despite the market having too much material at the moment (see letsrecycle.com story), the material is likely to be needed later in the year.
“We’ve got a good match between offtakers at 4.3 million and arisings at 4.5 million. Therefore, the seasonality is a big part of our industry. This consistent demand through the winter but very little arisings is challenging for us.
“I think we need to realise that when exporting wood, it is of value later in the year. There is no point exporting material during the summer when offtakers are down and arisings are up, only to have to import it later.
“It’s going to a good use in Scandinavia and other markets abroad, but we well balanced market just not well balanced storage.
“I’m not saying we go back to the days of when wood is piled high, fire prevention has been important. But we have almost got to a point where shipping containers could be passing each other, so we have to think of that both from a practical and carbon emissions perspective.”
Mr Hayton from Egger Timberpack, one of three panelboard recyclers in the UK, followed the session by reiterating demands to separate MDF chipboard.
Later in the Q&A session on storage, he said the sector is at times “constrained by FPP” meaning it is not able to store wood.
“Wood, if stored correctly, is not as dangerous as we thought. I think this needs to be addressed and I hope this is recognised. There is plenty of wood and I don’t think we should be exporting the material which could be used another time.
Prior to this he urged the industry to separate material, explaining that “we can’t use the same material sources biomass use. We need to go back to basics and think about the segregating of material again”.
He added: “But we get material we can’t use. People say they’ll drop it for free and practically begging but we simply can’t use it.”
Julia Turner, executive director of the Wood Recyclers Association, further explained the recent wood classification guidance.
She said that from the sampling already done, it was found around 0.6% of fence posts were hazardous and by the end of 2022 this would not exist.
And, small quantities of some construction and demolition waste from pre-2007 was also considered hazardous, and this would need to be segregated
She said the Association had managed to secure a ‘business as usual approach’ for household wood, but said testing and sampling will need to continue to ensure the quantities are decreasing.