Wood Repurpose

As we in the UK move towards a more sustainable society, we must re-use and repurpose more, and landfill less. With increasing landfill taxes, landfill operator and haulage costs, and more stringent packaging waste regulations, the repurpose of materials, including wood, assumes an increasing importance. The wood repurpose sector therefore looks forward to an exciting future with enormous potential for expansion.

A high priority for the Government Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is to stimulate demand for repurposed wood products through a marketing and education initiative.

Wood Recyclers Association members process waste wood chips, mainly for use by the particle board manufacturing industry. The main emerging volume market for prepared wood chip is energy generation. In 2005 about 1.4 million tonnes of wood chip went into particle board manufacture, and 200,000 tonnes into biomass for heat and power generation.

Other wood chippings are produced for animal bedding, on golf courses, paths and gardens, children’s playgrounds and horse arenas. Coloured chips are also sold to garden centres and other retail outlets. 2005 saw around 300,000 tonnes of these products manufactured, and 2006 is expected to show another significant tonnage increase.

Uses for Repurposed Wood

Repurposed wood products are made from post-consumer and post-industrial sources. Wood waste is cleaned and processed to remove any contaminants and to reduce particle size. This material is then used to manufacture a range of quality products for different markets. Some products may be made entirely from waste wood or they may contain a proportion of virgin material.

The three key uses of repurposed wood chip for the leisure and landscaping sector are:

  • Landscaping Products
  • Equestrian Products
  • Animal Bedding Products

Landscaping Products

Natural and Decorative Mulches

A non-composted mulch product made from repurposed timber which naturally suppresses weeds and converses soil moisture. Suitable for professional and domestic use on planted areas in parks, gardens, highways, residential estates, municipal areas and business parks.

Surfacing Materials for Pathways

A repurposed woodchip surfacing material, which comes in a variety of colours including light natural shades. It can be used in parks, gardens and on golf courses.

Play Surfaces

Softer grades and smaller sizes of repurposed woodchip, comforting to the requirements of Impact Absorbing Playground surfaces (BSEN1177: 1998), can be used in public or private play areas with all equipment including slides, climbing frames and swings.

Equestrian Products

Equestrian Surfaces

A wood fibre surfacing made from repurposed wood, suitable for both indoor and outdoor arenas, paddocks and gallops. Offers a long-lasting, low impact all weather surface, which is light and easy to maintain.

Horse Bedding

A wood fibre surfacing made from repurposed wood, suitable for use in livery yards or by individual horse owners. Offers a dust free, absorbent, easy maintenance bedding.

Animal Bedding Products

Horse Bedding

A wood fibre surfacing made from repurposed wood, suitable for use in livery yards or by individual horse owners. Offers a dust free, absorbent, easy maintenance bedding.

Poultry Bedding

A wood fibre surfacing made from repurposed wood, suitable for use in broilers and laying chickens. Offers a dust free, absorbent, easy maintenance bedding.

Cattle Bedding

A dry, absorbent bedding suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Domestic Pet Bedding

A range of wood fibre bedding made from repurposed wood is available for hamsters, guinea pigs etc. Offers a low dust option for animals prone to respiratory problems.

Cat Litter

An absorbent repurposed wood-based cat litter.

Plastic Repurposing

The main types of waste plastic are as follows:

1   Polyethylene Tetraphthalate (PET)

2   High Density Polythene (HDPE)

3   Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

4   Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

5   Polypropylene (PP)

6   Polystyrene (PS)

7   Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

1 – Polyethylene Tetraphthalate (PET)

General properties:

  • Clear
  • Hard
  • Tough
  • Solvent resistant
  • Good gas and moisture barrier properties
  • High heat resistance
  • Microwave transparency

Common uses:

The good gas and moisture properties of PET, together with the fact that it is tough and clear, make it ideal for fizzy drink and beer bottles. Its high heat resistance makes it especially suitable for pre-prepared food trays and boil-in-bag food pouches. Other common uses include soft drink and water bottles, fibre for clothing and carpets, strapping, and mouthwash bottles. PET is now replacing HDPE in many applications, such as shampoo bottles etc.

2 – High Density Polythene (HDPE)

General properties:

  • Excellent moisture barrier properties
  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • Hard to semi-flexible
  • Strong
  • Soft waxy surface
  • Permeable to gas
  • HDPE film crinkles to the touch
  • Pigmented HDPE bottles generally have better stress crack and chemical resistance than bottles made from unpigmented HDPE

Common uses:

The excellent chemical resistance of HDPE makes it ideal for packaging household and industrial chemicals, such as detergents, bleach, and acids. Its moderate stretch and high strength characteristics make it especially suitable for grocery bags, as found in most supermarkets. Other common uses include film, especially snack food packages and cereal box liners, milk and non-carbonated drinks bottles, margarine tubs, toys, buckets, rigid pipes, crates, plastic lumber, garden furniture, flowerpots, and signs. As HDPE is permeable to gas it is not suitable for applications requiring an oxygen or CO2 barrier.

3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

General properties:

  • Excellent transparency
  • Hard, rigid (flexible when plasticised)
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Long term stability
  • Good weathering ability
  • Stable electrical properties
  • Low gas permeability

Common uses:

PVC has been successfully used for pipes and fittings due to its chemical resistance, imperviousness to attack by bacteria or micro-organisms, corrosion resistance and strength. It is frequently used in food contact applications, especially frozen foods due to its low oxygen permeability and strong cold temperature properties. Other common uses include carpet backing, windows, water, shampoo and vegetable oil bottles, credit cards, wire and cable sheathing, floor coverings, synthetic leather products, coatings, and blood bags and medical tubing.

4 – Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

General properties:

  • Tough
  • Flexible
  • Waxy surface
  • Soft – scratches easily
  • Good transparency
  • Low melting point
  • Stable electrical properties
  • Good moisture barrier properties

Common uses:

Due to its flexibility and other properties LDPE is used predominantly to manufacture films such as garment and produce bags, agricultural films, refuse sacks, and packaging films, foams and bubble wrap. Other uses include flexible lids, flexible bottles, wire and cable applications, some bottle tops, and irrigation pipes.

5 – Polypropylene (PP)

General properties:

  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • High melting point
  • Hard, but flexible
  • Waxy surface
  • Translucent
  • Strong

Common uses:

PP is found in everything from flexible and rigid packaging to fibres for fabrics and carpets and large moulded parts for automotive and consumer products, such as automobile battery casings. Most bottle tops are made from PP. Other common uses include ketchup and pancake syrup bottles, yoghurt and margarine containers, potato crisp bags, drinking straws, hinged lunch boxes, refrigerated containers, medicine bottles, crates, plant pots, and heavy gauge woven bags or tarps.

6 – Polystyrene (PS)

General properties:

  • Clear to opaque
  • Glassy surface
  • Rigid
  • Hard
  • Brittle
  • High clarity
  • Affected by fats and solvents.

Common uses:

PS is a versatile plastic that can be rigid or foamed. Common uses of rigid PS include yoghurt containers, fast food trays, disposable cutlery, video cases, vending cups, laboratory ware, seed trays, coat hangers, and low-cost brittle toys.

7 – Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

General properties:

  • Foamed
  • Lightweight
  • Stiff
  • Excellent thermal insulation
  • Impact absorbing
  • Affected by fats and solvents.

Common uses:

Common uses of foamed PS (EPS) include egg boxes, food trays, hot drink cups, protective packaging for fragile items, and insulation.

Metal Repurpose

Metal’s repurpose is a £3.5billion UK industry, processing ferrous and non-ferrous metal scrap into vital secondary raw material for the smelting of new metals. The industry employs over 8,000 people and makes a net contribution to UK balance of trade.

Worldwide, over 400 million tonnes of metal are repurposed each year.

Virtually all metals can be repurposed into high quality new metal. The process varies for different metals, but generally produces metals of equivalent quality. Thus, for example:

  • Steelmaking using the electric arc furnace process uses scrap metal as the major raw material. This method is typically used for high quality tool steels and stainless steel. Smaller quantities of scrap can also be used in basic oxygen (blast furnace) steelmaking.
  • Copper scrap is used by both primary and secondary producers, where processing methods include blast furnace, reverberatory furnace or electric arc furnace. In the latter, around 75-80 per cent raw material is scrap copper.
  • Aluminium production uses a single production method – the Hall-Héroult Process. But virgin raw materials require temperatures of around 900 C, whilst scrap aluminium melts at around 660 C.

Metals repurpose protects the environment and saves energy. Using secondary raw materials means less use of natural resources which would otherwise be needed to make new metal compounds – such as iron ore in steelmaking; nickel in stainless steel; or alumina and bauxite in aluminium smelting.

There are also considerable savings in energy, and reduced CO2 emissions, in production methods using repurposed materials.

EU figures indicate that using repurposed raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes CO2 emission reduction every year.

There are also other environmental benefits, for example, using repurposed steel to make new steel enables reductions such as:

  • 86% in air pollution
  • 40% in water use
  • 76% in water pollution

Metals repurpose supplies a major worldwide industry. Manufacturing of metals continues to be one of the largest UK manufacturing sectors, employing more people, and contributing more value to the UK economy, than motor and aerospace combined. Growth in China, and to a lesser extent India, means that export markets are growing.

Thus repurposed metals have significant economic value – and so scrap metal is rarely discarded or sent to landfill.

In 2005, 13 million tonnes of metal was repurposed in the UK. Around 40% of this was used in the UK, and the remaining 60% exported worldwide: the UK produces considerably more scrap than is required for domestic markets.

  • Ferrous scrap: 4.6 million tonnes of iron and steel and stainless steel scrap was supplied to steelworks in the UK, and 0.9 million tonnes to UK foundries; 6.1 million tonnes was exported. Major markets were Europe, particularly Spain, and Asia, particularly India. The worldwide market for ferrous scrap is predicted to continue its steady growth, which has averaged around 5% per annum over the past 12 years.
  • Non-ferrous metals: over one million tonnes was processed. Approximately 45% of this was aluminium, 31% copper, and significant quantities of nickel, brass, zinc and lead. Non ferrous metals are traded on the London Metal Exchange, and therefore subject to volatility in commodity investments. UK exports topped 800,000 tonnes in 2005, a 20% increase on the previous year. Europe, China and India are the main destinations.


Expanded polystyrene (EPS) consists of 98 % air and 2 % polystyrene (Styropor®). We compact large chunks economically and efficiently into smaller highly compacted blocks. This is a perfect solution for where relatively large quantities of expanded polystyrene occur in set construction.

The massive reduction in volume offers a practical solution in creating dense bricks which are then used as a fuel source. Expanded polystyrene can also be recycled as high-quality PS granulate and re-used in the manufacture of plastic items such as CD covers, clothes hangers, plastic mouldings, and insulation.

In general, the modular design of our machine means that it can be customised to match customer requirements. The machines can either be fed manually, using a conveyor or via a hopper.

How it works

We first remove any surface paints or coatings by hot wiring them off. Then the operator inserts the EPS pieces in the machine hopper. An efficient coarse shredder with twin-tooth rotating shafts reduces the pieces to 20-50 mm size, which are fed into the press channel and compressed together. The blocks exit separately to be loaded individually onto pallets.