Waste wood markets in Europe

Last week, at the invitation of the member company Renewi, the meeting of the European Working Group of the BAV-Bundesverband der Altholzaufbereiter und -verwerter e.V. took place in Amsterdam.

The event focused on the European waste wood markets, their changes and challenges. The goal of the meeting is networking, knowledge transfer and a better understanding of the markets in neighbouring European countries.

Presentations and market reports from Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany highlighted the developments in the individual countries. Above all, Germany, the largest market for waste wood in Europe, is facing major challenges with a view to the end of the promotion period for waste wood power plants.

The next meeting of the working group is scheduled for spring 2019.

Challenges for the biomass plants in Germany

In view of the forthcoming amendment process to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the BAV (German Federal association of waste wood conditioners and recyclers) is committed to ensuring that climate-friendly energy from waste wood remains an important component of the energy system transformation process. The majority of wood-fired power plants, most of which are subsidised by the EEG, will be phased out gradually between 2020 and 2026.

This transition poses a challenge for the industry, as it is at this time that power plants that have already dropped out of the subsidy are in competition with power plants that continue to receive the feed-in subsidy. “The end of EEG support, which the BAV supports in principle, must be designed in such a way that no waste wood power plants leave the market due to the distortion of competition caused by subsidies,” says Simon Obert, Managing Director of the BAV.

Waste wood power plants that no longer fall under the regime of the EEG also lose the feed-in priority over fossil fuels, as the amended Biomass Ordinance no longer recognises waste wood as biomass. Dieter Uffmann warns: “If wood-fired power plants lose their status as producers of renewable energies and the associated priority given to feed-in electricity over fossil fuels, there is a danger that electricity and heat from wood can no longer be produced economically in Germany. Every waste wood biomass power plant that comes off the grid also means that valuable CO2 savings potential is lost. We must promote for the fact that Germany sets further on green energy from old wood.

Context: In about 75 waste wood power plants in Germany waste wood is used as fuel. Each year about 6-6.6 million tons are used. This corresponds to about 75-80% of the annual waste wood volume in Germany. The majority of waste wood power plants receive state subsidies. This ends in 2020 for the first 11 of the 75 plants.

Climate protection contribution of waste wood power plants

The German government declared that the 2020 climate protection targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent could not be achieved. An important key to reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gases is the generation of energy from climate-neutral renewable energy sources.

Currently, the share of renewable energies in electricity generation is approx. 33.3 percent and in heat generation approx. 13 percent. Besides wind, water and solar energy, biomass is one of the most important renewable energy sources. The Charter for Wood, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), balances that wood is currently one of the most important energy sources of the energy turnaround: approx. one quarter of the electricity and two thirds of the heat supply from renewable energies are based on wood or biomass. An important component of the energy supply from wood is currently provided by 75 waste wood power plants in Germany.

The power plants, which are distributed decentrally throughout Germany, show how climate protection, energy efficiency and resource conservation can go hand in hand. Wood is a sustainable raw material that binds carbon as it grows and thus removes CO2 from the atmosphere. The carbon remains bound even if products are made from the wood.

In Germany, approx. 8 million tons of waste wood are produced annually, especially in the packaging industry, in the construction and demolition sector and in municipal waste. These wastes are processed to the valuable secondary raw material by complex sorting and processing procedures. Depending on the pollutant load, the waste wood chips can be used either for the production of chipboard or for electricity and heat production. Read More

Altholztag 2018 – Waste wood industry meets in Frankfurt

The German Waste Wood Association once again recorded a high number of participants with its conference programme. The Waste Wood Ordinance, titanium dioxide, technology and country reports attracted more than 140 participants to Frankfurt.

Under the motto “The Future of Waste Wood”, the annual Waste Wood Day of the Federal Association of Waste Wood Processors and Recyclers (BAV) took place in Frankfurt am Main on 20 September 2018.

The conference and the evening event of the waste wood federation led more than 140 guests to the Hessian metropolis. In addition to the well-known market participants, many new players were to be found in the ranks of the participants. Dieter Uffmann, Chairman of the Board of the BAV, sees this as a sign of a growing desire for networking and the need for information in times of changing framework conditions. “The Altholztag is the most important lecture and networking event in the industry. The high number of visitors confirms that we have once again hit the nerve of the industry with our programme this year”.

Jochen Kamm, Dieffenbacher GmbH, reported on the latest developments in the field of waste wood cleaning in the panel industry. Through the use of sensor and X-ray technology, impurities can be efficiently sorted out from different waste wood fractions, independent of moisture fluctuations or high fines content. This means that waste wood can be used even more efficiently.

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German waste wood volume

Material recycling gains weight – energetic recycling still the mainstay of waste wood recycling

“The market for waste wood continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than we had expected”. These are the words Dieter Uffmann, Chairman of the BAV – Bundesverband der Altholzaufbereiter und -verwerters e.V. (Federal Association of Waste Wood Processors and Recyclers), uses to comment on the figures of the study currently presented by the University of Hamburg and the INFRO – Information System for Raw Materials on “Waste wood in the Waste Wood Market – Volume and Recycling 2016”.

Waste wood volume:

According to the results of the study, the trading volume, the internal use and further sale of waste wood fell slightly in 2016 by 7.7 million tonnes (2010: 8.1 million tonnes). The market volume, the sum of internal use and distribution to end-users, increased from 6.3 to 6.6 million tonnes in the same period. Intra-trading, the difference between the trading volume and the market volume, is the sale of waste wood from the disposal companies to each other. At around 1.105 million tonnes p.a., this is declining.


In 2010, more than 5.0 million tonnes of these 6.3 million tonnes, or a good 80 percent, were recycled for energy purposes. In 2016, of the 6.6 million metric tons, only 4.5 million metric tons were recovered, or a good two thirds. In the same period, recycling in the panelboard industry increased significantly, from just over 1.1 million tonnes to almost 1.5 million tonnes. After every fifth tonne, more than every fourth tonne of waste wood is now recycled.

Nevertheless, the BAV chairman emphasises that the focus remains on the energetic use of waste wood and thus the sustainable contribution of the waste wood industry to the energy turnaround. From the BAV’s point of view, this is also linked to a viable solution for biomass (heating) power plants after the end of EEG support. According to Uffmann, the higher volume also underlines the urgency of the amendment to the Waste Wood Ordinance.

According to the survey, the export of waste wood for the wood-based panel industry has risen sharply. Whereas only 54,000 tonnes of waste wood were exported for this purpose in 2010, exports for this recycling route climbed to almost a quarter of a million tonnes in 2016. And this volume is likely to have risen further recently, according to Uffmann, referring to industry figures. In this connection, the BAV continues to urge consistent enforcement of the applicable law. “We formulated this demand in autumn last year in a joint paper with the Fachverband Holzenergie (FVH) and the Verband der Deutschen Holzwerkstoffindustrie (VHI) (Association of the German Wood-Based Panel Industry).

The BAV – Bundesverband der Altholzaufbereiter und -verwerter e.V. (Federal Association of Waste Wood Processors and Recyclers) – is an organisation of all interest groups in the waste wood industry. The association currently represents 87 companies from the fields of processing, material and energy recovery, mainly from Germany, but also from Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden.

The report “Waste wood in the waste disposal market – volume and recycling 2016”, prepared by the University of Hamburg and INFRO – Information Systems for Raw Materials, can be downloaded here.

BAV Waste Wood Conference 2017 with record number of participants

The Federal Association of Waste Wood Processors and Recyclers (BAV) is extremely satisfied with the response of participants to this year’s Waste Timber Day in Hamburg. “With more than 140 participants, more than ever before have taken part in this traditional event,” stresses Dieter Uffmann, Chairman of the BAV. “We are delighted with the strong response and the consistently positive response to our event,” said the BAV Chairman.

Among other things, the morning of the Waste Wood Conference (Altholztag / Waste Wood Day) was dedicated to the discussion about technical solutions with regard to limit values and sampling.

Jochen Kamm from the plant manufacturer Dieffenbacher impressively described the opportunities and possibilities of processing technology with integrated X-ray sorting and fines cleaning for the recycling of waste wood.

Nico Führinger from the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Sciences presented a sampling system which was developed in the waste wood processing plant at Kaatsch in Plochingen with the Technical Manager Frank Menzel. In terms of costs, it is considerably lower than the solutions currently available on the market. A patent application has already been filed for the innovative process-optimizing sampling system. Jens Gatena of the Bremen trend.research gave in his lecture an outlook on the market for waste wood in Germany up to the year 2030 and referred to the large challenges of the industry.

Mathias Falkenberg from the Brussels representation of the BDE reported on upcoming initiatives at EU level and the need to react to European regulations at an early stage. In this context, Dieter Uffmann welcomed the deepening EU cooperation with the BDE concluded in September 2017 and sees the Waste Wood Association strengthened for the future by the important player at his side.

The development on the waste wood markets in Sweden and Great Britain as well as imports and exports in the EU were also the focus of the Waste Wood Day. According to this, British exports will fall significantly as large incineration capacities are currently planned or under construction, as Claudia Amos from the London consultancy Anthesis Group explained.

In addition, BAV is concerned about the recent increase in shipments of waste wood for recycling. There are considerable doubts that quality requirements will always be met. For this reason, the BAV has signed a position paper from BBE and VHI which formulates requirements for politicians and enforcement authorities. For example, notification applications may only be approved if German or comparable standards are complied with, the associations demand. The position paper can be found here.

All interest groups of the waste wood industry are organised in the BAV. It currently represents 84 companies from the processing, recycling and energy recovery sectors. The companies come mainly from Germany, but also from Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Great Britain and Sweden.

The BAV image brochure is available HIER.

Further information on the Kaatsch sampling system can be found at www.kaatsch.de