Biomass is a generic term for a wide range of organic materials including wood, which are used to generate electricity and/or heat. Waste wood is just one form of biomass for which there is rapidly growing interest in the UK. The key difference between using biomass and fossil fuels is that with biomass, if sustainably managed the carbon dioxide released from combustion is in theory re-absorbed by the replacement growth via photosynthesis making the process, in theory, carbon neutral.
The significance of this is that, free from the requirement of waste legislation, such materials are open to be treated on the market as a resource. As well as reducing the burden of unnecessary waste, the process simultaneously increases the availability of valuable raw materials. Whilst this has been successful for some waste streams, an attempt to apply one to wood waste failed due largely to the lack of a clear industry standard that could determine the point at which a waste material met the criteria necessary to be exploited for its intended purpose.
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