Where does waste wood come from?

Many millions of tonnes of wood waste are created every year, and this doesn’t include green waste. So, where does all this waste come from?

The Construction Industry

Wood waste is produced from many different types of building sites, such as new builds and refurbishments, equating to almost 1 million tonnes each year. Most of this waste ends up in a skip with all the other waste. Construction wood waste is challenging because it consists of many different types of woods, such as solid wood, laminated chipboard, MDF, pallets and plywood, for example. This makes it difficult to recycle in a conventional way, as these different wood types have to be recycled in different ways.

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Demolition Waste

Every year, the demolition of buildings generates a similar amount of wood waste to the construction industry. Many materials from demolition can be found in salvage yards across the country, things like chimneys, fireplaces and bricks. When it comes to re-using demolition wood, factors to be considered include health and safety and speed.

In the past, demolition workers were happy to climb and cut down floor joists using a chainsaw but for safety, demolition is now often carried out by diggers with claws that load material straight into skips to be taken to a waste sorting station. The result is that less wood is salvaged as it isn’t economical to sort through demolition waste by hand. As with construction waste, the wood is of many different types, of poor quality and mixed with many contaminants.

Wood processing & manufacturing

This waste comes from places like timber mills, furniture production, joinery workshops and other types of wood manufacture. Some of these smaller businesses only produce small quantities of waste and often find it easy to hand over excess wood to people as firewood, for example. The wood is also fairly clean and not mixed with contaminants so is easier to recycle.

Bigger businesses dispose of their wood waste by installing a wood-fired heating system. Shavings and sawdust can also be supplied to farms for use as low quality cattle bedding. Sawdust from workshops is increasingly being recycled by being turned into compressed briquettes for heat logs, as they burn faster and cleaner than logs. For Briquetting Machines, visit https://iwmachines.co.uk/en/products/briquetting-machines/

Pallets & packaging

Waste from pallets and packaging includes items like crates, cable reels and boxes, for example. Most of the millions of pallets are broken or cannot be reused for some reason. Thankfully, pallets are among the cheapest and simplest wood waste to recycle. They are most often untreated and easy to transport, so are popular with wood recycling centres.

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Municipal Waste

Approximately one million tonnes of wood waste are produced by domestic usage. This is the waste that ends up being taken to the tip or local household recycling centre. It either gets mixed with general waste and sent to landfill or moved to a wood recycler. Unfortunately, not a great deal of reusable waste comes from this source. It includes items like broken furniture, old fences, kitchen units and parts from sheds which have been painted or treated in some way. Therefore, it is the lowest quality and cannot be reused.