It is increasingly common practice to recycle and reuse what would otherwise be timber residue into new products and applications. The versatility of timber is no better demonstrated than in the variety of second life products it makes its way into.
Particleboard manufacture is increasingly utilising recycled wood packaging and off cuts in the production of new particleboards. Animal bedding, mulch and composts continue to make excellent use of the natural moisture retaining properties of timber and more and more timber salvaged in the demolition of large buildings is finding new life as features in contemporary designer buildings.
The environmental benefits of such reuse are obvious - not only is the service life of the timber extended (and with it the need for a new product eliminated) but in addition, the carbon contained within the recycled timber is stored for the life of the new product.
When wood residue from timber processing cannot be recycled it can still be used to produce biomass energy. Biomass energy is a renewable energy, sourced from natural materials like wood, which is then generated into heat or electricity.
The National Timber Product Stewardship Group states that the energy produced from the combustion of renewable timber is considered to emit over 50 times less greenhouse emissions than combustion of black coal and over 30 times less than natural gas, when used in industrial facilities.
Wood residue used in energy production provides two fold environmental benefits. Firstly, its use reduces industry reliance on environmentally damaging fossil fuels, in turn preventing the release of long-term carbon store from sources that cannot be replenished. Secondly, the energy itself omits far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than typical alternatives.
For more information on the timber industry's forward approach to recycling and waste reduction, go to The National Timber Product Stewardship Group (NTPSG) www.timberstewardship.org.au. NTPSG is an initiative of the timber and wood products industry, aimed at doubling the recovery of post-consumer timber and wood products.
The research papers, available for download below, also discuss the topic in detail.