Cascade Use of Wood

Three times more value add, two and half times more carbon storage, and 1 million new jobs

EUR 22 bn turnover every year

100,000 jobs

more than 5,000 enterprises

This is what a material focussed use of wood could deliver to Europe compared to today’s reference scenario. This is the clear message from CASCADES, the study on the optimised Cascading Use of Wood that was published by the European Commission in July 2016.

The report gives a definition of cascading use, a quantification of its current use and finally recommendations to promote and increase it. These are based on the extremely compelling numbers in four case studies that consider different policies and their potential impact. The four scenarios are reference, material, energy and post-consumer wood.

EPF has embraced the Cascade Use of Wood concept for many years. In June 2017, EPF held its Annual General Meeting in Portugal. This occasion was used to launch a short video dedicated to the the Circular Economy and especially the Cascade Use of Wood, entitled “Wood-Based Panel Industry, Circular by Design”.

The video acknowledges that we live in a world of finite resources, and urges citizens to replace the broken “take, make, dispose” model with a circular “use, re-use, recycle” one. Wood-based panels can extend the life of wood, by re-using what would otherwise be waste. They increase carbon storage, reduce landfill, and still allow for energy through incineration at end of life. In this sense, wood is a material of the future. Building with wood, and using harvested wood products for furniture and other applications delivers so many benefits that it will enhance the world that we live in.

In January 2018, DG Grow of the European Commission confirmed that it would publish “Good Practice Guidelines on the Cascading Use of Biomass” before the end of the year. The guidance will be non-binding and non-regulatory in nature, presenting the principles and the working definition on cascading, as well as a set of practical examples, with the aim of knowledge-sharing and facilitation of uptake in various conditions of use.

The non-binding “Guidelines for Good Practice of the Cascading use of Biomass” were launched at Raw Material Week, under the umbrella of the Bio-economy Strategy. It is hoped that the guidelines will help to realise the additional value add, carbon storage and employment of wood-based panels and other wood products, highlighted in the European Commission’s 2016 report.

The Guidance on Cascading Use of Woody Biomass is available in the EU bookshop: