Turn wood residues into a valuable raw material through industrial symbiosis

© Nitr, image #118750004, 2017, source: Fotolia.com


Sustainability Waste
Manufacture of wood and paper products
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10)

Industrial symbiosis is an industrial ecosystem where the unused or residual resources of one company are used by another. This results in mutual economic, social and environmental benefits. It is a process involving several companies – firms that complement one another provide mutual added value through efficient use of raw materials, technology, services, energy, and know-how.

One company's waste is another's potential raw materials or energy source; the key is to find them. Companies can also look into ways to convert their waste material into a useful product with little or no cost attached.

Industrial symbiosis promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and supports local and regional growth, creates jobs, and fosters industrial clusters that share a mutual interest in resource efficiency. In the forest-based and wood sector, for instance, there is a lot of potential for creating industrial symbioses. Wood as a material has high value and there are several utilisation options for side streams created by for example sawing and trimming.

Examples include:

Wood off-cuts: Look for companies that produce smaller components. Leftover pieces can be a raw material for them; even the smallest off-cuts can be used for particleboard or pellets.

Sawdust and shavings: Utilisation possibilities can be found as filling material in packaging, in animal bedding, composting, or energy production, to name a few.

Filling materials, upholstery foam or battings: Cut-offs can be suitable for filling mattresses, cushions or other stuffing.

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