Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rotting wood 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide

Each year anything between five and ten million tonnes of wood is thrown away in the UK. Recycling rates for wood have improved in recent years. In the mid 1990s, less than 2 per cent of discarded wood a year was recycled, that figure is now between 40 and 50 per cent.

However this still means that each year the equivalent of many forests are being buried in holes in the ground! As the biodegradable wood lies in landfills, gently rotting away, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

"Kitchen cabinets are regarded as the low-grade end of the used-wood market. Most are made from wood chip and are bound by glue and other substances, all of which have to be filtered out when recycled. Because of present economic conditions, there is a surplus of used wood on the market. But the great hope for the future are wood-fuelled biomass power plants: wood surpluses could be burned as more of these facilities come on stream. Wood recycling groups, operating in virtually every city and county, are an excellent drop off and buying point for used-wood products. Find out where your local one is at the charity Furniture Re-Use Network www.frn.org.uk" said the Green and Confused Organisation.

Times online

Thornton Kay said . . .

The figures given by The Times are misleading. The article says 'In the mid 1990s, less than 2 per cent of discarded wood a year was recycled, that figure is now between 40 and 50 per cent.' and that 7m tonnes of wood is discarded.

The truth is that much more than 7m tonnes of wood is discarded from all waste streams in the UK annually of which around 7m tonnes is discarded from construction and demolition alone. In the mid 1990s 10 percent of this C&D wood, or 700,000 tonnes, was reclaimed for reuse as wood by the salvage sector. Officially less than 2 percent was recycled by being chipped, mulched or burnt, although anecdotal evidence is that unrecorded burning was much more prevalent.

In 2009 the amount of reclaimable wood being recycled increased to 50 percent, and 250,000 tonnes are reclaimed for reuse by the salvage sector.

The Times story is greenwash. It is promoting the view that the best option for reusable old demolition timber is burning in waste to energy plants. All reusable wood should be reused. Burning reusable wood is never the best option, and it would only be carbon neutral if the world's forests are expanding by the amount of wood being destroyed and the energy costs of felling and converting the timber were nil. But in reality forests are contracting rapidly and the energy costs of growing new forests and logging and converting new timber are high.

14 NOVEMBER, 2009 02:52

1 comment:

  1. The figures given by The Times are misleading. The article says 'In the mid 1990s, less than 2 per cent of discarded wood a year was recycled, that figure is now between 40 and 50 per cent.' and that 7m tonnes of wood is discarded.

    The truth is that much more than 7m tonnes of wood is discarded from all waste streams in the UK annually of which around 7m tonnes is discarded from construction and demolition alone. In the mid 1990s 10 percent of this C&D wood, or 700,000 tonnes, was reclaimed for reuse as wood by the salvage sector. Officially less than 2 percent was recycled by being chipped, mulched or burnt, although anecdotal evidence is that unrecorded burning was much more prevalent.

    In 2009 the amount of reclaimable wood being recycled increased to 50 percent, and 250,000 tonnes are reclaimed for reuse by the salvage sector.

    The Times story is greenwash. It is promoting the view that the best option for reusable old demolition timber is burning in waste to energy plants. All reusable wood should be reused. Burning reusable wood is never the best option, and it would only be carbon neutral if the world's forests are expanding by the amount of wood being destroyed and the energy costs of felling and converting the timber were nil. But in reality forests are contracting rapidly and the energy costs of growing new forests and logging and converting new timber are high.

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