WRA: ‘Over 97% of UK waste wood processed in 2023’

The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) has said that over 97% of UK waste wood was sent for processing in 2023, which is said to be the highest level to date.

While UK waste wood arisings remained constant last year, at approximately 4.5 million tonnes, the data indicates that the amount processed edged upwards from 4.312 million tonnes in 2022 to 4.408 million tonnes.

This data signifies a continuation of growth since a temporary disruption due to Covid-19. These figures are produced by the WRA using the results of its annual member survey and combined with other data.

WRA members represent approximately 90% of the market, said to account for 3.92 million tonnes of waste wood processed.

Large-scale biomass was the largest user of waste wood in 2023, accounting for 63% of wood processed, up 6.2% from 2022. WRA said this demonstrates the “important role” that waste wood biomass plays in delivering secure, low-carbon, baseload power.

Second in line was panel board, accounting for 22% (963,000 tonnes) of wood processed. This is a 5% decrease compared to 2022, which is reportedly due to a “depressed” housing market, which saw overall production reduce, alongside the closure of the West Fraser South Molton manufacturing plant.


Equalling 350,000 tonnes (8%) was animal bedding, equine surfacing and other recycling and reuse. Pallet refurbishment and reuse of wooden items through local authority reuse hubs also increased.

Other key findings included:

  • Exports/imports netted off rose to 205,000 tonnes from 130,000 tonnes in 2022 accounting for 5% of all wood processed, due to high demand for biomass feedstock in Europe
  • Usage in small scale biomass remained static at 90,000 tonnes, representing 2% of the market
  • The remainder of the 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood is believed to go to informal markets, such as being burnt during bonfire night or at home

‘Healthy increase’

Julia Turner, executive director of the WRA, said: “We are delighted to report another record year for waste wood processing which shows that supply and demand is now well balanced and we have well developed markets for all waste wood.

“We are particularly pleased to see a healthy increase in wood being sent for animal bedding, equine surfacing, other recycling and reuse and hope this will increase even further in future if we are able to include all the wood sent to reuse hubs and pallet reuse.

“The waste wood market is well positioned for 2024 with environmentally compliant markets for all domestic waste wood arisings. We are confident that as demand reaches full capacity, the remainder of unprocessed wood will find its way into formal rather than informal markets, providing the best environmental outcome for this valuable resource.”

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