Wood Recycling: Did You Know?

Whether it’s used pallets or scrap lumber, wood is a common waste stream for manufacturing plants. Here are a few facts you should note if you are considering wood recycling for your facility:

Wood recycling and paper recycling are not the same thing.
Where paper is typically recycled at a paper mill or through composting, there are many factors that affect how a particular wood waste item is recycled. For instance, a used wooden pallet in working condition should be recycled differently than a broken wooden pallet. Taking this a step further, a broken pallet with a Creosote or other chemical treatment should be recycled differently than a broken pallet of non-treated wood.

Look for contaminants.
Contaminants are anything other than wood (like the Creosote treatment already mentioned) which might affect how a wood waste item is recycled. Here is a list of contaminants that might affect how your wood should be recycled:

  • Nails & Metal Fixings
  • Bindings & Glues
  • Paint
  • Surface Coatings like Polyurethane
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Grit

Recycled wood has many uses.
Ideally, wood waste items will be collected for reuse or repurposing. When this is not an option, wood waste can sometimes be used as biofuel, or recycled to make the following types of items:

  • Pathways & Coverings – Next time you go for a walk in the park, if your trail is paved with small wooden chips, you might be walking on recycled wood.
  • Mulches & Compost – Landscaping is a huge market for some recyclable wood, especially if the wood has not been treated with chemicals like Creosote.
  • Animal Bedding & Cat Litter – From stables to your cat’s litter box, animal bedding is a common use for recycled wood.
  • Chipboard & Fiberboard – Some wood waste can be recycled into engineered wood, such as particle board.

Recycled can be better than virgin.
If you were a manufacturer given the choice between buying 100 pounds of recycled wood with 20% moisture content or 100 pounds of virgin wood with 60-70% moisture content, which would you choose? The fact is, water accounts for a large amount of the weight in virgin wood. Therefore, manufacturers who use recycled wood rather than virgin wood as feedstock typically get more wood for their money. Unfortunately, this does not always translate to higher market rates for recycled wood compared to virgin material. Because there are many factors affecting how wood can and is recycled, costs and rebates for recycling this waste stream vary.

For more information about recycling wood at your facility, contact us today.