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Waste wood at sawmill

Sawmill residue and co-products

High quality timber is processed by sawmills for the construction, furniture and other industries, producing residues and co-products such as off cuts, bark and sawdust. These are potentially suitable for woodfuel.

Up to 60% of all wood going into sawmills can end up as a co-product, though much of this material is used to make existing products such as panel board or horse bedding.

Sawdust, especially dry sawdust from sawing kiln dried timber, is potentially highly suitable for wood pellet production.

Small scale pellet presses designed to be used alongside sawmill operations are available in the UK. For sawmills with insufficient capacity to justify a dedicated press, a portable/travelling pellet press may be another alternative. However, pellets produced in small scale presses are not high enough quality for sale commercially.

Case study: Rowan Timber

Rowan Timber, located in Plains, Lanarkshire, formerly produced 20 tonnes of wood co-products per week. Solid timber off-cuts were placed in skips, costing approximately £8,000 per annum to dispose to landfill using a local contactor.

Instead, these co-products are now converted to wood fuel to heat their offices and workshops, saving £8,000 in landfill costs per annum, significantly reducing heating costs and delivering a saving of 213 tonnes of CO2 per annum. The 390 kW boiler consumes 15 tonnes of wood co-products per week.

Untreated wood, such as sawmill slabwood, is exempt from the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) and can be handled in the same way as other virgin wood.

SEPA provides guidance on how waste is defined in the directive.