UK waste wood market goes from strength to strength exceeding 4 million tonnes of processed wood

In 2021 the UK’s waste wood market processed more than 4 million tonnes of wood for the first time in its history.

The annual statistics collated by the Wood Recyclers Association for 2021 showed the amount of waste wood processed in the UK rose from 3.82 million tonnes in 2020 to 4.17 million tonnes in 2021. The total amount of waste wood collected in the UK also rose again to 4.5 million tonnes after a decrease of 500,000 tonnes in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Biomass was still the biggest user of waste wood in 2021, representing 61 percent of the total amount of waste wood processed, an increase of 5.5 percent on the previous year.

The panel board sector increased its usage of waste wood by 10 percent on the previous year, reaching a record high of 1.08 million tonnes of waste wood going into the manufacture of panel board - representing 26 percent of the total amount of waste wood processed.

Other recycling outlets, including animal bedding products, and the reuse of waste wood remained constant at 350,000 tonnes in total.

The statistics also showed an increase in the amount of waste wood exported, rising from 92,000 tonnes in 2020 to 139,000 tonnes in 2021. Imported waste wood dropped significantly from 82,000 tonnes in 2020 to 31,500 tonnes in 2021, meaning the UK remained a net exporter.

Richard Coulson, chair of the WRA, said 2021 had panned out closely to the WRA’s predictions, particularly with an increase in exports again, showing the industry still features in a European market. Mr Coulson continued: “Last year we started to see a return to the normal seasonal pattern of waste wood in the UK following Covid, and that coincided with some extended outages in UK biomass plants.

“We knew that UK producers were handling increased enquiries from mainland Europe, particularly Germany, due to a lack of domestic supply. This, coupled with high power prices, drove European power plants to source additional UK imports, which was timely and welcome given the extended outages some UK biomass plants were facing.”

Mr Coulson expanded on this, saying that the waste wood industry has shown a continued resilience to the pandemic, Brexit and other outside influencing factors and remains in a strong position,  adding: “We have much potential for further growth.

 “We are particularly pleased to see usage from panel-board surpass 1 million tonnes and that total UK usage of waste wood was more than 4 million tonnes for the first time ever.”


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