UK biomass mills’ residual wood supply fell 60% in April, according to WRA

Contractual supplies of wood waste to UK biomass factories were down 60% in early April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA), the crisis could affect the wood waste industry for up to three years.

Delegates attending the WRA’s summer meeting webinar on June 3 learned that recovering from the pandemic was going to be a “long journey” for businesses in the industry. The organization noted that the fallout from the immediate drop in waste wood feedstock when the UK’s foreclosure was introduced in March, combined with an “already tight” market for the waste wood needs of the UK. UK, will affect the industry for at least the next 12 months. , if not two to three years in advance.

Several industry experts spoke at the WRA summer meeting, including Vicki Hughes from Enva Wood Recycling, Mark Hayton from panel board specialists Egger UK and Richard Coulson from energy supplier RWE. Members of the WRA also head Lauma Kazusa of Suez Trading Europe.

Within 10 days of the UK shutdown on March 23, there had been an 80-90% reduction in incoming wood waste at recycler sites, according to the WRA. Many recyclers have taken advantage of the leave scheme to support their businesses. Since then, raw material levels have returned to around 50%.

The lift for wood recyclers started slowly in early May when Household Waste Recycling Centers (CRDS) reopened. A survey conducted during the WRA webinar showed that HWRCs are a major supplier of wood waste, with 82% of recyclers receiving wood from this source. Although the situation has improved, the strong restrictions that remain in place coupled with HWRC sites not separating wood waste continue to affect volumes.

Vicki Hughes, Group Business Development Director for Enva Wood Recycling, commented: “If we look at the two potential scenarios for the industry over the next 12-18 months, we think the best case may be a shortage. just under 400,000 tonnes. of wood waste. However, in the worst case, it could be considerably higher.

The pandemic also caused the usual contractual supply of wood waste to biomass plants in early April to decline compared to usual, although there were variations between suppliers and some were significantly lower.

According to Richard Coulson, vice-president of the WRA, some plants had canceled planned outages due to the inability of European specialists to travel, and were instead operating at a reduced load. Other factories that ran out of fuel were forced to shut down and some managed to change the fuel mix to import both virgin wood and wood waste. “The next 12 months are critical,” Coulson said. “If there is a second peak in COVID-19 or a recession, the reduction in economic activity could impact our industry for another two years or more. “

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