Cascade use of wood

Use, Re-use, Recycle is at the core of what we do.

Thanks to the innovative techniques of the wood-based panel industry, it is now possible to turn elements of what was discarded in the manufacturing process, as well as waste wood in general, into high quality products.

Members of the European Panel Federation are committed to ensure efficient and optimal use of wood-based materials, in line with the principle of the “cascading use” of wood. Our industry seeks to keep wood in the material and economic cycle if possible. Whilst not all panels can use recycled wood, particleboard in particular is ideally suited to the use of recovered wood as a raw material.

Cascade: “The efficient utilisation of resources by using residues and recycled materials for material use to extend total biomass availability within a given system.”

European Commission Study on Cascade (2016)

Cascade Video

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.

Good Practice Guidelines on the Cascading Use of Biomass

Guidance cascade use

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.

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

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.

The Venice Declaration

In July 2017, members of the European Panel Federation (EPF) signed the Venice  Declaration together with the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC).

The agreement sets out a core set of principles for the Circular Economy charting a course for the continued contribution of the wood-based panel industry in Europe. At the same time, it also allowed for ongoing dialogue of the issue of converting biomass waste  to energy at the end of its material life.

The Venice Declaration was presented during the 2016 EPF Annual Meeting by MEP Simona Bonafè (S&D, Italy).