Wood wastes can be a lucrative commodity depending on local market conditions and available technology.
Relatively easy to recycle, wood wastes have many uses that make them valuable. In addition, technology for wood waste recovery and reuse is now commercially available, proven in use and relatively simple, according to Philip C. Badger, manager of the Department of Energy’s Southeastern Regional Biomass Energy Program (SEBEP) at the Tennessee Valley Authority Environmental Research Center, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Except for a small amount containing chemical preservatives, urban wood wastes (tree trimmings, brush, land-clearing debris, leaves and used pallets) are relatively benign. Typically, the wastes arrive at the landfill already sorted in monoloads, making recovery easier. If sorting is necessary, however, higher quality materials should be removed from the waste stream first to ensure the cleanest materials.
Potential wood waste markets include feedstock for wood composite materials, paper pulp, fuel for energy generation, animal bedding and litter, mulch, soil amendment or compost, landfill cover and road stabilization. Because of their bulk, the wastes cannot be cost-effectively transported long distances.