Exports down as UK biomass industry embraces domestic products
Things are looking up for the UK’s biomass industry with the Wood Recyclers’ Association reporting an increase in the amount of locally sourced biomass materials distributed throughout the UK. These statistics have been countered by a 50% decrease in exports on waste wood and panel board feedstock from 2016 to 2017.
WRA members have reported as having seen a 38% growth in UK panel board while a staggering 53% noted a similar increase for UK biomass. Out of an available five million tonnes of recyclable waste wood in the UK, 1.7 million was distributed to local biomass plants in 2017, up from 1.6 million the previous year.
Another 1.7 million tonnes was used to produce animal bedding, UK panel board feedstock and landscaping and equestrian services, marking a more impressive increase on the 1.4 million tonnes shifted for the same products in 2016.
Cause for celebration could be hampered however by the overarching issue of storage which, in its current state, isn’t enough to accommodate growing demand.
Andy Hill, Chair of the WRA details: “it has been a long winter over 2017-2018. That has given us a slow start to the year in terms of the volumes of waste wood available. We are predicting that the market will gather pace now over the summer and recyclers will be able to build up their stock levels ready for the peak off-take next winter.”
He continues: “it is crucial recyclers are able to store quantities of material over the summer months. We are urging the Environmental Agency to look very carefully at each individual situation and if an operator can show they have annual off-take and the sites are genuinely covered with the necessary health and safety requirements they should be allowed to store larger quantities of materials.”
Amidst the domestic surge, the Environment Agency has established a new role solely for the purpose of implementing Fire Prevention Plans on waste wood and similar products. Discussions are currently ongoing as to which policies will be implemented by the new member of staff.