2.5 Resource-efficient use, reuse and recycling systems


Wood and wood-based products have the potential to be re-used repeatedly as raw material. Waste from harvesting operations and wood processing is regularly used as high-value raw material for other types of processing. Low-value treetops and branches, stumps and roots, crude tall oil and other first and second generation biorefinery products contain chemically-attractive components which can be exploited in a variety of ways; woodchips and off-cuts from sawmills and furniture manufacturers constitute valuable input to wood-based panel manufacturing and pulp mills. All these materials are classified as pre-consumer wood. Post-consumer wood, i.e. a wood product that has gone through at least one lifecycle, can be used for the production of new value-added products. There are different categories of post-consumer wood; recycling of each of them requires different methods. It has been demonstrated that the multiple recycling of paper-based products and preferential material versus the energetic use of recovered flows generate more added value and create more jobs. Therefore recycling of paper and board products has formed an indispensable part of the manufacturing chain. Finally, the manufacturing of value-added biofuels (solid biofuels, biogas, etc.) and direct energy products will give extra value to wood waste in the final stage of its lifecycle, extracting the maximum potential from the lignocellulosic material. By using the full potential of wood within cascading chains and recycling the added value generated, the number of jobs maintained or created is significantly higher than in transforming primary wood directly into bioenergy.

State of the Art 2012

The primary and secondary wood processing industries (sawmills, panel board industries, furniture sector) and pulp and paper industries have a long tradition of using residues as a secondary raw material or as bioenergy source for their industrial processes. No raw material is wasted. Wood-based panels, in particular particleboard, are manufactured to a large extent from recycled wood, while products such as packaging can be produced from 100% recovered wood. The paper industry attained a recycling rate of 70.4% in 2011. Thus paper for recycling is the important raw material for paper making. This has been achieved through progress in paper collection and sorting, and in recycling and deinking technology despite more elaborate paper products (prints, stickies, more complex functional packaging). Reuse and recycling of post-consumer wood materials is more complex and requires different practices.

Expected achievements by 2020

Stakeholders (forest owners, forest operators, forest-based industries, politicians, the general public and consumers) are aware of the importance of cascade use and recycling for the sustainability of forests and the entire sector. Forest-based industries have developed and are following quality guidelines advocating a cascade use of wood along the following lines of priority: (1) production of wood-based products, (2) re-use of products, (3) recycling into other wood-based products, (4) use as bioenergy source. Well-developed paper collection systems and progress in sorting technology deliver a controlled quality of paper for recycling for the different paper grades. Fibres from recovered paper and board are fractionated in order to obtain fibre fractions to be utilised according to their potential within or outside the paper value chain, e.g. for bioplastics and biocomposites production or as a base for cellulose biofuels production. Recycling rates are increased for the production of graphic and tissue grades. The pulp and paper sector has integrated cascade use of mineral resources (fillers and pigments) in a cross-sectoral approach.

Required Research and Innovation Activities

Along whole value chain:

A. Generate a better knowledge of useful or harmful chemical compounds in different tree parts and wood biomass fractions for cascading purposes (bioenergy, biorefinery and wood products).

B. Develop further improvement for the collection of residues from harvesting and processing (paper, construction materials, waste wood, forest residues, pruning residues from agriculture, etc.) with priority for separate collection and quality assortment classifications.
C. Develop and implement new socioeconomic and policy formulas for fostering stakeholder and societal awareness of the importance of cascade use.
D. Develop value-added applications of extracted wood polymers, nanofibrils, lignin, xylan, pulp fibres and paper, for example, for carbon fibres or ultra-lightweight composites in the fields of construction, interior design and packaging.

Wood products:

E. Improve the re-usability and recyclability of wood composites and construction material.
F. Develop systems for wooden buildings allowing for easy dismantling and remounting.
G. Develop environmentally-friendly additives and impregnating agents for wood products.
H. Develop solutions for the utilisations of used wood from construction operations (scaffolds, concrete casting moulds) as a biorefinery raw material.

Paper and biorefinery products:

I. Establish criteria for eco-design of graphic and packaging paper products for an optimised recyclability and a material cascading towards zero waste.
J. Develop innovative sorting systems using new sensors for detection and robotics technologies for paper, wood waste and forest residues to separate according to different types of fibres, inks and fillers, contaminants and soil residues and resulting in higher sorting accuracy and velocity.
K. Develop new process technologies like separation, fractionation or extraction with improved selectivity for various components in recycling stock which enables a utilisation in value added applications inside and outside the production chain.
L. Research the treatment and pre-treatment of recycling stock, including enzymatic processes, for pulp and paper for recycling and other wood-based products.
M. Create radical innovations for the removal of inks from paper by easy-to-remove new inks and adopted printing technologies as well as by breakthroughs in deinking technology.
N. Boost and reactivate properties of recycled fibres (e.g. functionalisation) to enhance pulp and paper properties using new additives (e.g. nanofibrillated cellulose) and technologies.