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Biomass overtakes panel board, says the Wood Recyclers’ Association

The total amount of waste wood sent to biomass in 2012 was greater than that used for panel board for the first time, according to the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA).

In the UK market for wood chip, panel board remains the bigger sector but is overtaken by biomass when exports are included.

The WRA has reported that 909,000 tonnes went to panel board with biomass recording 759,000 tonnes. Exports for panel board were 167,000 tonnes while exports for biomass were 492,000 tonnes.

The overall totals are 1,251,000 tonnes for biomass and 1,076,000 tonnes for board. This switch occured after the closure of Sonae’s Knowsley panel-board mill, which made many reprocessors establish biomass markets for wood previously bound for the mill.

WRA members have seen growth in the waste wood to biomass market of 27% year on year in the UK between 2011-2012 but exports fell 5%. Panel board was down 5% year on year in the UK market and 8% in exports. 

They sent a total of 1.96m tonnes of wood for recycling to the UK market in 2012, up 8% on the previous year. The output to UK markets for all wood reprocessors was up 5% year on year at just under 2.26m tonnes.

However, exports were down 10% to 64,000 tonnes, hit by a mild European winter in 2011/12 and the Eurozone recession. Exports of panel board grade wood suffered slightly more than those of biomass.

WRA chairman Andy Hill said that the fall in exports and dip in the panel board market was to be expected and biomass markets had compensated for thesituation. 

“I expect to see a strong resurgence in both UK and export markets this year,” he said. “Wood recyclers continue to make a major contribution to both the economy and the environment.”

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