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The wood industry in France

The wood industry in France, deciphering a green sector

Wood, because of its sustainable characteristics, meets the circularity issues addressed in the building industry.
Renewable, ecological and requiring little energy in its production, this noble material has many attractions that the actors who work with it have taken advantage of. Valobat proposes you a decryption of the sector.

Wood, a sustainable material

The virtuous properties of wood:

  • Often defined as a carbon pump, wood acts significantly in reducing the greenhouse effect.
  • It represents a sustainable alternative to the use of fossil fuels.
  • Its transformation and its valorization (except paper industry) require only little water. We speak of a dry sector.
  • It prevents natural risks of erosion or landslides by stabilizing the soil.
  • Most of the wood industry's waste is recycled into co-products that can be used to manufacture paper pulp or particleboard.

Forestry management: guaranteeing the sustainability of the wood industry

It is the good management of the exploitation of the wood which allows the sector to ensure its durability and to aim at a double economic and environmental performance.

Without human intervention, forests are at risk of accumulating standing timber that cannot cope with the various climatic risks.

In fact, silviculture (the maintenance of forests with a view to their commercial exploitation) and reforestation contribute to the renewal of stands, taking into account climate change, so that the forestry park can continue to carry out its missions, including

  • The protection of towns and facilities in the vicinity of areas subject to landslide, mudflow or avalanche risk.
  • Soil decontamination and water filtration
  • Restoration of lumber stocks in line with industrial needs.

It is the nurserymen, the woodcutters, the forestry technicians and engineers who, with the support of independent organizations and public measures, participate in the good forest management.


The wood industry: a model of adaptation to environmental issues

Although wood has undeniable qualities, the industry has undergone a transformation in order to bring its practices in line with the virtues of this material. A successful transformation!

  • The wood industry now favorsbiomass energy over coal and fuel oil in their energy consumption.
  • Many wood processing companies also use their by-products to fuel a wood-fired boiler for their manufacturing facility.
  • The advent of the bioeconomy has also accelerated the diversification of the uses of wood, allowing a better valorization of wood co-products while limiting their transport.
  • The development of sustainable forest management certification marks (FSC, PEFC) allow consumers to ensure that the products they consume come from sustainable forests.
  • Encouraging all building industry players to move towards greater circularity, particularly through the development of reuse and eco-design in their activities, public authorities are also playing a central role in the transformation of the sector. The new EPR PMCB, which makes manufacturers and distributors responsible for managing the end-of-life of the products and materials they produce, is a perfect illustration of this commitment.

What happens to wood waste?

The annual amount of wood waste emitted in 2019 from new construction, renovation and demolition sites is estimated at 2.3 million gross tons according to a study conducted jointly by the FCBA and Xerfi

Of this waste, 44.5% would be recovered from materials, 42% would be recycled, 2.5% would be reused, and the energy recovery rate would reach 48%. The burying would concern 7,5% of the wood waste of the building.

Classified in three categories of wood waste families, class A for untreated wood, class B or AB designating non-hazardous treated wood, class C being similar to hazardous treated wood, all of them can nevertheless be recovered by means of different processes.

Today, the European framework directive 2008/98/EC of November 19, 2008 prioritizes waste prevention actions, encouraging reuse over other waste management methods.

Reuse refers to the operations by which materials and products that have not passed through the status of waste are used for a purpose identical to that for which they were designed.

Reuse consists of reusing materials or products that have become waste by possibly diverting their initial uses.

Recycling refers to the reintroduction of waste into the production of new products. Wood waste is then transformed into raw materials to be used in the manufacture of particle boards or paper pulp.

The unusable wood chips are recycled into fuel to supply heating networks for households or industrial sites. This process is a much less polluting alternative to the use of fossil fuels such as fuel oil.

Wood waste from the construction industry that could not be recycled can also be used in the production of cement. This resource is indeed favored by the cement industry in reaching its objective of reducing by 50% the substitution of fossil fuels by 2025.

The wood industry in a few figures :

France is the fourth most forested country in Europe (31% of the territory) and has no less than 16.7 million hectares of forest in mainland France.
This is the added value of the wood industry, representing 1.1% of French GDP in 2018.
This is the share of wood harvested per year, of which 10.3 million is industrial wood, 20 million is timber and 8.5 million is energy wood.
This is the amount of carbon stored in French forests according to the National Forestry Office.
This is the number of direct and indirect jobs in the sector. This represents 1.4% of the active population.

Our ambition for the wood industry

Make the wood sector more circular by activating several levers:

  • By defining a collection organization adapted to each channel (public and professional waste collection centers, craftsmen and construction sites) via calls for projects to develop the missing tools.
  • Accelerating the development of recycling at the 120 existing wood material preparation centers through R&D (particularly around the issues of specific dismantling and the treatment of hazardous substances).
  • Encouraging factories to use recycled raw materials in the manufacture of their new products.
  • By structuring the network points on the territory (every 10km) through calls for projects.

How to join the Valobat eco-organization?

The Valobat membership process is quick and entirely paperless. It has been designed to make it as easy as possible for you to implement your circularity approach. In just a few clicks, join thousands of actors who, like you, wish to contribute to accelerate the circular economy in the building industry. Many marketers have already joined us! Why not join us?