How is Green Wood Waste Recycled?

If you are considering hiring a tree surgeon to deal with troublesome greenery in your garden, whether that is a simple prune of a hedge or the complete removal of a tree, you have probably wondered what happens to all that green waste afterwards. Thankfully, much of the green wood waste produced in the UK is recycled and put to good use, rather than ending up in a landfill.

Wood waste from tree work is typically divided into three main areas:

  • Woodchip
  • Timber
  • Non -chippable waste (hedge trimmings, minor pruning, and tainted sweeping from the ground).

Today most of the green waste is processed using a wood-chipper, which results in the familiar looking wood chip. There are a wide range of chippers used in the industry, although the majority of tree surgeons utilise a portable wood chipper that can be easily transported and used on demand. Any green waste that is not able to be processed by the chipper, such as large branches and trunk pieces are typically transported and recycled for use as firewood or carpentry and joinery.

It is also quite common for customers to hold their own green wood waste. The majority of people ask to keep the timber which can be used as firewood for wood burning, as well as for wood working and planking. Additionally, some individuals wish to keep the woodchip for use in garden beds, since it helps keep weeds at bay and the soil moist.

But what happens to the waste we take from the job?

Woodchip Waste:

Annually many tonnes of woodchip will be collected and stored by the average tree surgeon company. The majority of which is sold on to individuals who tend to use in various types of garden projects. Storing woodchip is needed in order to give it time to compost and be utilised as mulch. If used directly after chipping it can have the opposite of the desired effect, resulting in plant decay and death. The main reason for this is due to the fact that plant life requires nitrogen and if fresh wood is added the bacteria needed to break it down also produce nitrogen, resulting in a loss of the nitrogen producing bacteria from the soil. As a result, it is preferable to leave the wood to process before it is used as garden mulch.

Many people ask how much woodchip is needed to cover a certain area within their garden. This obviously depends on a range of factors, but typically, the guideline amount is around 6cm of woodchip. Chippings are typically available per cubic metre, and one cubic metre will provide enough woodchip to cover over approximately 20 square metres. From this estimate, you can easily determine how much chipping you will need for your garden.

Another common use for wood chippings is its use in the Biomass fuel industry. Biomass is defined as any organic matter used as a fuel, particularly in a power station for the production of electricity.

Timber Waste:

Timber or lumbar wood is the highest grade of wood produced from tree logging and is typically used in carpentry or joinery or as firewood to fuel wood burning stoves and similar wood heat appliances. Many customers choose to keep such wood for personal use or to give to family members and friends. However, some trees are generally unsuitable as firewood and are used in various other garden and farm projects such as fencing and woodland sculptures. The best firewood includes hard woods such as maple and oak that tends to have higher energy content per cord and so release more heat per stove load.

Other Wood Waste:

Tree surgeons also deal with hedges and other types of shrubs, bushes and trees that are not suitable for chipping. During the cleanup process there is also a lot of material collected from the ground that is not green and not recyclable, including rubble and soil. This type of waste has to be disposed of and processed by specially designed machinery that can handle tough and harsh materials. This kind of waste is then recycled to be used as biofuel to provide fuel for power stations.

Even though much of the green waste is recycled, there are associated carbon emissions that result from the job itself, for instance, through the chipping process and transportation of wood and other materials. This is mitigated as much as possible by selling green wood waste as locally as possible and ensuring journeys are always planned efficiently as possible.