Main outcomes

 3w Factor: Innovative European Woodworking industries in the Circular Economy

Engineered wood products are becoming more recognized in the Circular Economy as climate friendly, sustainable alternative for use in construction (new build or renovation), furniture, interiors, and a range of innovative applications. Wood products can effectively store potentially large amounts of carbon and keep them in reuse and recycling loops for a long time through additional lifecycle phases. Wood products are thus expected to play a major role in the decarbonization of the building sector and other industries. However, huge amounts of resources are currently still wasted or used inefficiently, which is why the wood sector needs to learn from good practices and adopt innovative circular solutions across the value chain.

The report provides an overview of the large variety in the wood sector regarding different circular operational concepts and technological progress, including efficiency and processing, reuse, and recycling, to waste and side stream valorisation. The identified solutions are categorized based on the 9R-Principles of the European Commission’s Categorisation System for the Circular Economy (CSCE). In a Europe-wide open call, companies in the wood sector were identified, to present their solutions and business concepts for efficiency, recovery, and circularity as relevant practices. The results are described in 29 company factsheets, summarizing the innovative features of each business practice in a visual, easily readable layout. The collection represents a good snapshot of showcases of the ongoing transformation in the forest-based sector towards more circular models.

In conclusion, the adoption of Circular Economy concepts in the forest-based sector is showing progress, although it is yet far from mainstream. The company cases demonstrate how material loops can be closed and how residues and products in the use cycle can either be directly reused or fed back into the production cycle, mitigating direct incineration or landfill. For closing the loops, larger leading market actors and network organisations will play a decisive role, because they can attain the capacity to connect with a critical mass of other market actors and can leverage benefits along a managed supply chain to optimize resources and value added. Most of the described solutions are transferable and can thus inspire local companies or joint initiatives to foster the broader uptake of the Circular Economy across Europe.



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Project Coordinator
Anne-Christine Ritschkoff, VTT

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Anne-Christine Ritschkoff