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Wood-Waste. Is It A Fuel Or A Waste?

Clare Hollister

Landfill Tax, as its name suggests, is a government tax, paid to the government to discourage sending material that could be re-cycled or used for other purposes, to be buried in holes in the ground. (landfill)

Some parts of the country have run out of landfill sites. Domestic and industrial waste “incinerators” are emotive and produce “not in my back yard” feelings and protests. We all know we need them but not near me thank you.

Chris Franklin MD at Ranheat Engineering Ltd.  a leading UK manufacturer of wood combustion equipment-continues his series of articles for Panel & Joinery  Production. This issue he looks at how Governments use carrot and stick tactics on the UK wood working Industry.

The carrot was definitely the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive or RHI. This scheme paid companies a tariff per kW hour that the company used its wood-waste to produce energy for space heating and process heat.  The scheme ran for 10 years (plus a Covid extension) but has now closed. 

Another carrot is high conventional energy prices and decarbonation of conventional fossil fuels.

The stick is Landfill Tax.

Most wood machining operations produce wood-waste either in the form of extracted dust from wood working machinery or as off-cuts of either natural timber or man-made boards such as Chipboard MFC and MDF.

All types of wood-waste being sent to landfill is taxed at the highest rate. From April 2023 this is £102.10. 

It is generally accepted that to dump waste at a landfill site averages at around £100.00 per tonne. Plus, Landfill tax to the Government of £102.10.

Based on this a skip containing 3 tonnes of wood-waste will be charged around £600 to go to landfill.

Some companies insist that a separate skip is used for dust and in some cases the dust must be sealed in plastic bags.  This is because some landfill sites are exposed, and loose dust would blow away.

 For cost reasons you don’t want the dust to get wet or it’s £102.10 landfill tax to get rid of water!!!!

Most wood waste however goes to a sorting centre where the usable wood can be separated and shredded for use as Biomass. This causes problems with definitions as it left the wood working company as a waste, but the sorting centre has turned it into fuel.

Industrial wood-waste has a high energy value. Man made boards generally have a low moisture content and hence high calorific value. A generally accepted “yield” on industrial wood-waste is 3,200 kW hours per tonne (this includes a reduction for combustion efficiency)

So, it makes solid sense to install a Ranheat Wood combustion system to utilise the sites waste to heat the factory. Ranheat make a low cost “bag loader” that can safely feed extracted wood dust into a Ranheat Warm air heater.

There is no need to go to the expense of making briquettes to burn your dust. Briquetting machines use a lot of electrical power in forming the briquettes and once formed the dust briquettes try to go back to dust as they are only held together with pressure there is no bonding agent. Dust from the briquetting storage bags cannot be fed into a hand loaded heater and must be processed again through the briquetting machine.

The bag-loader is a simple air-tight metal box with internal agitators and a simple screw that feeds material into a 150 or 300 kW Ranheat warm air heater.

Whichever Ranheat system you go for or indeed any wood fired installation using waste wood still has to meet all of the current regulations.

You still are legally required to obtain planning, chimney height approval and permits to enable you to legally burn wood-waste. This can be in the form of an exemption from the EA for up to 50kgs per hour, or a permit for a SWIP or a full part B permit. Ranheat are on hand to give free assistance with obtaining these permits and permissions.

For further information on all types and sizes of Industrial Woodburning equipment from 150 kW upwards contact Ranheat:

T: on 01604 750005

E: [email protected]