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Dialogue platform "Material recycling of waste wood in Switzerland"

On 25 April 2024, S-WIN, in cooperation with the Innosuisse Flagship "Think Earth", organised a dialogue platform on the recycling of waste wood in Switzerland.

The event included guided tours of the waste wood processing plant and the recycling center of Schneider Umweltservices, where the waste wood, which mainly comes from the construction industry, is sorted and differentiated into uncoated and coated waste wood. The waste wood is then shredded by a shredder and screened before it is sold to chipboard plants and energy wood power plants.

At the Schneider Umweltservices Recycling Center in Volketswil, the participants were shown the polyvalent sorting machine. This machine first sieves out the mineral materials, then removes the iron using an overbelt magnet and detects reusable materials using near-infrared sorting systems. Compressed air blasts separate paper, cardboard and later also plastics. In this way, 20 tons of 100 tons of mixed waste can be recycled and 30 tons can be used as substitute fuel.

At the dialogue platform "Reuse and Recycling of Waste Wood", experts from wood research and industry highlighted the current (research) topics from their fields in order to discuss strategies for promoting the material recycling of waste wood with the participants. Technological, logistical, economic and social aspects were taken into account.

In the study "Reuse in the Swiss construction industry. Potentials, Challenges and Starting Points" of the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH under the direction of Barbora Starvicova, the reuse of waste wood in the Swiss construction industry was investigated. Interviews with industry players and end-customer surveys were conducted. The research results show, among other things, that waste management and resource use are central issues in Switzerland, but there are no clear legal requirements in the construction sector. The useful life of goods plays a crucial role in an effective circular economy. While the material recycling of waste wood takes place mainly in the chipboard industry, thermal recycling is mainly used in municipalities and district heating networks.

Companies such as reWOOD, founded by Erich Lemann, presented the current opportunities and challenges as a company that recycles waste wood in furniture. At reWOOD, products can be individually adapted and sold online.

The recently launched Innosuisse Flagship project "Think Earth" focuses on systemic innovations in the recycling and reuse of wood, with the aim of developing efficient structures for the reuse of beams and the recycling of solid wood panels.

Due to its size, the construction industry has the potential to be a central social sector and an important lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the participants, however, there is a lack of clear legal requirements regarding grey energy and carbon emissions in the construction sector in Switzerland that could favour the reuse or upcycling of waste wood. Another lever could be the perception of the value of components within society and the construction industry, as well as the promotion of interdisciplinary cooperation and knowledge transfer.

Many thanks to all participants for their inputs and active participation!

Feedback, input, and questions about the future and the working topics of the recycling of waste wood in Switzerland are very welcome.


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