waste wooden boards in a big pile.
Facts about recycling wood

Wood Recycling Facts and Statistics

The UK produces 4.5 million tonnes of wood waste every year – and the rest of the world creates plenty more too. This includes everything from throwing away an old coffee table to wooden pallets and packaging used for shipping goods overseas. When any items made of wood no longer serve a purpose they become waste.

Wood is a natural material, highly sustainable, reusable, recyclable, or compostable (depending on its type and grade). Unfortunately, lots of waste wood makes its way to landfill. Responsible disposal is important as burning wood releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This can have negative health and environmental effects.

See the wood for the trees about how much of the sustainable material goes to waste across the planet. Find out more with these wood recycling facts and statistics.

Waste wood examples

Anything wooden or that contains wood materials, which no longer serve a purpose, is an example of waste wood. There are three grades of waste wood – A, B, and C. Examples of these include hard and softwood such as pallets (A), mixed wood like furniture (B), chipboard, MDF, and plywood (C).

Businesses and homes create all sorts of such waste, whether through accidental damage, wear and tear, or renovating a room. These are some common waste wood examples:

What causes waste wood?

Packaging and shipping are some of the main causes of waste wood. Often wooden pallets are used to transport all sorts of products around the world and once they reach their destination the pallet is no longer needed. Large wooden boxes are also used to contain big and heavy items that also become waste once delivered.

Construction, demolition, and manufacturing processes create waste wood in various forms as well. This can be through extra material that’s not needed for a construction project or measuring mistakes resulting in waste. Offcuts from manufacturing wooden products and demolition work where wood is involved are other causes.

Renovation work, replacing old items, and damage to furniture and old kitchen units (such as cabinets and worktops) are primary sources of waste wood at home. While chopping down trees and trimming branches technically creates wood waste, this should be treated as green or garden waste as it’s natural wood.

broken waste wood pallets in a big pile.

Wood waste statistics

Facts and stats about wood waste vary depending on the type of product, grade of wood, and the country where it’s produced. Every year millions of tonnes of wood are disposed of for all sorts of reasons. This relies on growing and chopping down more trees to maintain our reliance on the natural material.

Get a clear idea of how much we use and dispose of with these wood waste statistics:

  • Only about 15% of waste wood is recycledacross the world
  • The USA creates about 300 million tonnes of wood waste each year – and it’s estimated at least 12 million tonnes go to landfill
  • EU countries (and Switzerland) produce around 60 million tonnes of wood waste every year
  • Australia generates almost 2 million tonnes of waste wood annually
  • In France, 1% of all waste created is wood waste
  • The EPA estimates that at the current rate by 2065 around 7 billion tonnes of waste wood will have been generated since 1900
  • Wood is the fourth-most popular packaging material (after paper and cardboard, glass, and plastic)
  • 9 billion m³ of underbark (inner layer of tree bark) is removed from global forests annually
  • Almost half (49%) of this underbark is used as wood fuel – the rest is for industrial roundwood (used by wood processors)

UK wood recycling facts

The UK generates around 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood every year, according to the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA). The good news is that lots of this is recycled, recovered, and reused rather than going to landfill. Here are some more facts about waste and recycling wood in the UK:

  • Despite the UK being home to just 1% of the global population, the country consumes 3% of the world’s wood
  • The WRA estimates that more than 90% of waste wood is recovered in the UK
  • In the UK at least 133,000 tonnes of waste wood are recycled annually, while almost 250,000 tonnes are turned into biomass
  • The amount of waste wood used for animal bedding, equine surfaces, other recycling, and reuse is around 322,000 tonnes
  • Biomass is the largest user of waste wood – responsible for 63% of total material processed
  • Panel board is the second-largest use of waste wood – accounting for around a quarter (24%) of the total material processed
guitar and wooden boards in a big container at the tip.

How should I get rid 
of waste wood?

Few local councils or authorities accept waste wood in domestic recycling bins. In most cases, you can take any old wood to your nearest household waste recycling centre (HWRC). There should be a dedicated container for wood. Alternatively, some councils offer a bulky waste collection service – although there may be a charge.

Businesses must arrange the removal of any waste wood by licensed waste carriers. At Business Waste we can provide free bins and containers to store all sorts of wood – you only pay for collections. You can book regular removals of wood or ad hoc collections of large items from your business anywhere in the UK.

All wood is recycled, recovered, and reused where possible and kept out of landfill sites with our services. You receive a free duty of care certificate confirming the safe and legal removal and disposal of your commercial wood waste. Licensed waste carriers will always collect and manage your waste.

Get a free no no-obligation quote for waste wood collection anywhere in the UK today. If you’ve got any questions or want information about waste wood removal from your home, one of our expert and friendly team will be happy to help. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online today for your free tailored quote.

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