Traditionally, the largest outlet for clean, recycled woodchip has been the panel board industry, which uses the material in the production of chipboard. Reprocessed wood packaging – such as pallets – is also eligible for support under the Packaging Waste Recovery Note System (PRN).
However, an increasing number of wood recyclers are diversifying into “value-added” markets such as animal bedding, for which higher grade – clean and untreated – waste wood is allowed. Waste wood markets for equine surfacing, public pathway surfacing and garden mulches have also been steadily developing for grade ‘A’ waste wood.
Dedicated biomass plants – both at home and abroad – have also offered a growing market for recycled woodchip, as the government strives to generate more renewable energy and councils and waste management firms seek to divert lower-grade wood, which is not suitable for recycling, away from landfill.
However, a number of biomass plants due to take waste wood have either come online, or are expected to shortly, in Scotland and also in England. This has impacted on gate fees for waste wood, with greater demand for material leading to lower gate fees – or in some cases in Scotland and certain parts of the UK a payment being made.
In more southern parts of England where there is smaller capacity for waste wood biomass, however, there is greater emphasis on the export biomass market to the likes of Scandinavia, which is prone to seasonal variations in demand between summer and winter. With lower demand, waste wood gate fees are generally higher in the south of England.