Background to wood recycling
Why do we recycle wood?
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio saw the United Nations (UN) begin to tackle a growing international issue - the destruction of the earth's irreplaceable natural resources.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life were drawn into the Rio process in an attempt to bring about change and safeguard the future of the planet. Environmentally, this was the foundation that all future legislation would be drawn from.
Britain, like its counterparts, took the warnings very seriously and set about developing and implementing systems and procedures that would make us look closer at what we did and how we did it.
Areas requiring urgent review were transportation, energy and waste. Fuel in the form of lead petrol was to be phased out, energy would need to be generated from fossil-free fuels and land filling of waste had to be reduced significantly.
One area where much needless waste was generated was packaging and in 1997 the Government introduced The Waste Packaging Legislation, which aimed to cut down the amount of packaging waste that was being sent to landfill.
Recycling and recovery targets were set for various material groups one of which was wood. The producers and users of packaging now had the responsibility of dealing with the waste they generated and the more they produced the heavier the penalty. All businesses with an annual turnover exceeding £2 million and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year had to comply with the directive.
In 2000 the Government introduced further laws reducing the amount of material sent to landfill. The main theme was 'where waste is created we must increasingly put it to good use through 're-use, reclaim, recycle, compost or to use it as a fuel'. The Government further recognised the need to develop new markets for the recycled materials.
What's the story today?
The UK generates an estimated 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood a year. In 1996 less than 25% of that was recycled. By 2011 that figure had risen to over 60%, or around 2.8 million tonnes.
Land filling organic materials such as wood leads to emissions of methane. This is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Recycling wood offers a real opportunity to reduce landfill, reduce emissions to the atmosphere and to improve the economic vitality of our country.
With increasing landfill charges, landfill taxes, recycling targets, penalties, and the ever-increasing cost of transport, wood recycling is also a sound financial investment.
Recycling is fundamental to sustainable development and UKWR has taken commercial responsibility to participate in and encourage re-use of this useful commodity.