Recent figures from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) show that the country produces about 4.3 million tonnes of timber waste every year. These come from various industries, such as construction, demolition, wood processing and manufacturing, wooden packaging and municipal wood waste — but only a fraction of these are recycled.
A large chunk of the recycled wood becomes raw materials for new products. In fact, in 2010, more than 1,100 kilotonnes (kt) of waste wood became panel boards, while some went into beddings (500 kt), equine (75 kt), mulches (150 kt) and pathways (17 kt). Meanwhile, about 551 kt of waste wood went into a promising field for the waste industry: biomass energy.
This energy source is showing a lot of potential in the renewable energies sector. Let LKM Recycling walk you through the basics and benefits of biomass energy and prove how wood recycling, whether in large or small amounts, help fuel our country.
What Is Biomass Energy?
The National Energy Foundation defines biomass energy as energy produced from plant and animal materials, such as poultry litter, straw, wood and crops.
Wood, in particular, has always been a source of biomass energy. For instance, people have used logs, woodchips and wood pellets for water heating. Households use logs and pellets, while bigger spaces like schools, community buildings and offices use wood chips for large boilers.
Today, the country uses millions of tonnes of wood thrown in rubbish bins as materials for biomass energy.
Wood Waste for Biomass
The type of waste wood from the UK is numerous and varied. The Renewable Energy Hub classifies them into four categories:
- Grade A — These are clean, non-hazardous waste woods. They are usually a by-product of arboriculture activities, packaging, scrap pallets and off-cuts from untreated wooden materials. To turn this to biomass energy, it goes through an industrial biomass boiler.
- Grade B — These are non-hazardous waste woods usually from manufacturing wood-based panels like chipboards and fibreboards. Processors convert it to biomass energy by putting it through a Waste Incineration Directive (WID) and Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)-compliant industrial biomass boiler.
- Grade C — These consist of non-hazardous waste woods from construction and demolition activities and recycling centres. Like Grade B waste wood, a WID (IED)-compliant industrial biomass boiler should be able to process it.
- Grade D — These include waste woods treated, coated or painted with a hazardous chemical, such as chrome, copper, arsenic, creosote or halogenated compounds. Turning this into biomass energy would require a hazardous waste incinerator.
Wood Waste as Biomass Energy in the UK
The wood waste sector is already contributing to the country’s energy security considerably. In fact, the 3.1 million tonnes of waste wood produced each year provides 3,500 GWh of power. That’s enough to power a million households.
The DEFRA report foresees an increase in demand for waste wood from the biomass sector, and this was echoed by the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA). The institution expects the UK biomass market to double by 2018, especially now that new waste wood powerplants that can process 1.6 million tonnes are under construction.
By recycling wood, businesses not only help solve the landfill problem but also contribute to the country’s green initiative. LKM Recycling has the facilities to properly recycle your wood waste for a cleaner, greener country.
Contact us today for more information about our wood recycling services.