The recent surge in wood waste exports is expected to be a long-term trend rather than the previously predicted short-term effect, a report by Tolvik Consulting has found.
The briefing report, The UK Waste Wood Market, says large export increases are due to the high demand for waste wood in Northern Europe where there are big feedstock shortfalls in established biomass markets in Sweden and Germany.
The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) recently released data which showed a six-fold increase in the amount of wood going to export in 2010. It calculated that 540,000 tonnes of waste wood went to export last year. However, data from the Environment Agency showed 273,000 tonnes of “treated cork and waste woods” was exported in 2010, offering no explanation for the difference.
Demand from Europe is now affecting UK gate fees. The report finds that even after allowing for transport costs, European prices are still competitive with the domestic market. This is particularly the case for a waste wood recycler located near a port. This will therefore encourage more wood to go to export.
The WRA believes wood exports will decrease as more biomass facilities come online in the UK.
In addition, the report implies that will require an extra 20 million tonnes of wood a year if all the planned facilities are built.
Tolvik calculates that wood arisings amounted to 4.3 million tonnes in 2010, down on 2007 levels by almost 1 million tonnes. The current UK wood recycling rate is 74%. If the maximum recycling rate of 85% is achieved by 2015, only 500,000 tonnes extra each year will be available to biomass.
But, while the Government hopes to gain “substantial” tonnages of waste wood from landfill with a proposed ban, data showed 280,000 tonnes of wood waste collected by local authorities goes to landfill, while 70,000 tonnes is sent for incineration.