Wood waste market in the UK

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The purpose of this project was to undertake both market and economic assessments for wood waste in the UK. The two sections of this report are described separately below.

This section first identified gaps in wood waste estimates and then presented an approach for closing identified gaps.

A review of current publicly available literature confirmed that there are a range of estimates available on wood waste availability in the UK, and no figures from the reviewed literature were used in this study. The best of the approaches used in the studies were to link the wood consumption and waste generation by wood consuming industries, and wood embedded in buildings with wood generated from demolition activities.

This study then used two approaches to analyse wood waste arising in the UK. Firstly a bottom up approach by carrying out an interview programme with industry players within wood consuming and wood waste generating sectors; and secondly a top-down approach which analysed wood waste arisings by applying waste factors to volumes of wood consumed by various industries.

Whilst there are some good data sources regarding both municipal and industrial (packaging) wood waste, it is much more limited for the construction sector. Interviews with construction companies indicated a general lack of awareness of how much wood is actually consumed. However, almost all are able to indicate how much wood is wasted as a percentage of their consumption. The new requirement for site waste management plans should make it easier to track wood waste in the construction industry at least for large and medium size companies. Similar to the construction industry players contacted, demolition contractors found it difficult to estimate the amount of wood waste generated from demolition activities.

The results using both approaches were remarkably close, with wood waste arisings in 2007 being 4.5 million tonnes using the bottom up approach and 4.6 million tonnes using the top down approach. The construction and demolition sectors are the largest generators of wood waste.

This figure is substantially less than figures presented in previous studies and this is thought to be due mainly to a lack of data for the construction sector. This situation is improving and with the advent of Site Waste Management Plans, estimates for this sector should become increasingly accurate. The current economic climate may also have affected the estimate of wood waste arisings from the Construction and Demolition sectors.

On a regional level London, the South East and the North West have the highest wood waste arisings. This is clearly linked to these areas having the highest population density as well as most construction and manufacturing activity.

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