By Stephen Mitchell

Frame and truss fabrication is an efficient and comparatively low waste process. There has always been a healthy trade in untreated timber offcuts and sawdust which fabricators give away or even sold depending on local markets.

However, the increased uptake of H2F bluepine timber, LVL and other engineered and treated wood products has created problems (and expense!) for disposal in most of Australia. Some wood recyclers refuse to take treated or engineered wood offcuts – often due to Government regulations enforced by local environmental protection authorities.

This article is a quick national look at what is happening in the wood waste disposal and recycling world around Australia.

From 1st July 2019 a $75 per tonne the Queensland state government’s waste levy applies to any disposal of any timber waste, including any treated timber and treated sawdust and shavings. Also being introduced are greater regulations on recyclers and waste disposal companies. The result of these changes means we are finding recyclers are under closer scrutiny not to accept any treated timber waste of any sort of preservative in supply chains for animal bedding or land applied mulch.

D&R Henderson has been taking timber offcuts from fabricators in New South Wales and Victoria for many years – including bluepine H2F offcuts – to their particleboard facility at Benalla in Victoria. 10-20% of the fibre used in production of their new particleboard is sourced from post-consumer material. Their capacity is limited however, and bad weather and plant maintenance shutdowns means that this outlet is not always available.

New South Wales is probably the toughest market for fabricators looking to find alternatives to disposal for their waste offcuts and sawdust – and by far the most expensive for disposal. From 1st July 2019 the state government’s waste disposal levy will be $143.60 per tonne in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong and $82.70 in regional areas including the upper Hunter and far north coast.

One Sydney-based facility – Direct Pallets at Ingleburn – has permission to reprocess small volumes of H2F offcuts pine into landscaping and animal bedding products.

The other good news is that Borg’s has planning permission to utilise recovered clean wood offcuts in their new particleboard plant at Oberon (see here) and will be starting to source timber offcuts sometime in the near future.

Boral Cement at Berrima also use a wood waste-based fuel (WWDF) derived from demolition timber, pallets and other waste wood.

Due to the high levy in NSW a healthy market is also developing in processing and exporting recovered waste wood chip to several Asian countries for use as a renewable fuel in place of fossil fuels coal or natural gas.

In Perth, Hazelmere timber Resource Recovery Park has accepted was bluepine for many years for recycle into various landscaping woodchips and animal bedding products. The owners are also proposing to build a wood waste to energy plant.

South Australia has plenty of options for timber offcuts recycling. What can’t be used in landscaping or animal bedding products ends up being used as fuel in place of natural gas in Adelaide Brighton Cement’s Wingfield plant via ResourceCo.

Wood waste to energy makes sense in many jurisdictions however waste regulations can be tricky to negotiate. The good news is now there are some good equipment operators with plant operating in Australia, so it is getting easier to get projects off the ground.

About the Author

Stephen Mitchell has been assisting wood product manufacturers and timber recyclers with developing markets and meeting environmental regulations for disposal and recycling of waste treated and engineered timber for over 15 years. Email phone 0432 860 100 or visit the website