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29 Oct 2018

Blog: Recycled wood - waste or valuable raw material?

Wood based panel industries are the segment within today's bioeconomy where recycling of wood products (post consumer) has become operational practice for many years. Particleboard production in some European mills is based almost fully on recycled wood.

"From a holistic perspective it is a good thing to use recycled wood as raw material for the production of wood based panels“ says Silvio Mergner, Principal within Pöyry's Industry practice. "For businesses it offers significant cost savings potential compared to fresh wood assortments, and it satisfies the cascading principle like no other engineered wood product on the market".

There are further positive effects, including positive effects for the CO2 emissions balance and the competition for wood in regions with a tight supply and demand balance. At the same time the industry invests heavily in order to ensure the products that eventually find their way into living rooms and kitchens remain a safe alternative to other building products. 

However, recycling doesn't come without challenges. Sustainability, circular economy and our own health and safety are all noble goals. Yet at the same time they can create unforeseen practical challenges to ensure sustainability of industries underpinning the wood waste value chain. If wood waste becomes too expensive, the panel sector may start reducing intake. If wood recyclers need to ensure higher quality requirements and the panel and bioenergy sector is not able or willing to accept new prices, wood recyclers will gradually exit the business. With landfill not being an option in many countries, and with dedicated bioenergy assets becoming under pressure with the gradual lifting of incentives, will the result be increasing material flows towards incineration?

At Pöyry we provide a wide range of services along these questions to our customers. During the European Wood Based Panel Industry's annual gathering in Hamburg, Silvio Mergner presented a perspective on the role of waste wood in the industry today, along with food for thoughts for policy makers, associations and business leaders.

From 10th to 12th September 2018 the European wood-based panel industry met in Hamburg to hold its 11th Wood Based Panel Symposium which was organized by Frauenhofer/ WKI and EPF (European Panel Federation). This year more than 340 people attended the conference. Mr. Silvio Mergner, Principal at Pöyry Management Consulting based in Munich was one of the keynote speakers. In his presentation Mr. Mergner covered the topic of recycled wood and asked the audience if it is a waste product or a valuable raw material for the production of wood-based panels.

Contact information

Silvio Mergner
Principal