A circular economy that exploits the full potential of natural resources like wood depend on the advanced cleaning, sorting and recycling of waste wood. Whereas traditional cleaning methods, such as magnets, air and water separators, deliver adequate results for smaller plants that do not require high throughput and purity levels, manufacturers looking to increase recycled content require the most advanced sorting technology. A combination of X-Ray sorting units to remove inert materials from waste wood and optical sensor-based sorters further purification enables plant operators to unleash new opportunities. First, they can run high throughputs and reach new purity levels. Second, they can create new revenue streams when upgrading the optical sorter with deep learning technology. Sorting software based on deep learning allows for the detection, analysis and separation of different wood grades and can even recover medium-density fiberboard (MDF) from a processed waste wood stream.
In recent years, the industry has undergone considerable change and made huge progress related to sustainability. Infrastructures to collect, sort, and recycle waste wood have been put in place in countries and regions that have recognized the untapped potential of waste wood. With the market introduction of smart sorting technologies that outperform many conventional methods, recycling has become a promising concept for both the industry and nature. In the future, the wood-based panel industry will increasingly turn to recycled wood to access materials, develop products of higher quality, reduce costs and dependence on material availability, and realize higher yields.
Once holistic approaches are widely established, we must go beyond closing the loop on particleboards and address circularity for all types of wood-based materials some of which are currently still difficult or impossible to recycle. In general, the solution is quite simple: the more wood is kept in use, the more we protect our planet and minimize deforestation, a factor that is propelling climate change. There is still a long way to go, and the imbalance of supply and demand will not disappear overnight, but we’ll get there if we join forces and remind ourselves of the necessity to maximize resource use and recovery. Don’t forget, wood is good, recycled wood is better.