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Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Wood: Material-Specific Data

The sources of wood in municipal solid waste (MSW) include furniture, other durable goods (e.g., cabinets for electronic equipment), wood packaging (crates, pallets) and some other miscellaneous products.

This web page is a brief summary of wood material-specific data. For more comprehensive information, see the 2015 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page.

On this page:


Overview

This is a picture of a pair of hands holding wood chips. The man's hands are full of them, and the chips are also underneath, comprising the whole background of the photo.EPA measures the generation, recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling of wood materials in MSW.

Pallets are estimated to account for over 90 percent of total wood packaging. EPA based its generation and recycling methodologies for wood pallets on market research report data, combined with data from the Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 2015, the generation of wood in MSW was 16.3 million tons. This equaled 6.2 percent of total MSW generation that year.

EPA estimated wood pallet recycling (usually by chipping for uses such as mulch or bedding material, but excluding wood combusted as fuel) at 2.7 million tons in 2015 for a 16.3 percent recycling rate.

The total amount of wood in MSW that was combusted in 2015 was 2.6 million tons. This was 7.6 percent of MSW combusted with energy recovery that year.

In 2015, landfills received 11.1 million tons of wood. This was 8 percent of all MSW landfilled that year.

Please see the EPA Methodology Document for further information on estimating the generation and management of wood.

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Summary Table and Graph

The data below are from 1960 to 2015, relating to the total number of tons of wood generated, recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery and landfilled.

1960-2015 Data on Wood in MSW by Weight (in thousands of U.S. tons)
Management Pathway 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2014 2015
Generation 3,030 3,720 7,010 12,210 13,570 14,790 15,710 16,120 16,300
Recycled - - - 130 1,370 1,830 2,280 2,570 2,660
Composted - - - - - - - - -
Combustion with Energy Recovery - 10 150 2,080 2,290 2,270 2,310 2,540 2,580
Landfilled 3,030 3,710 6,860 10,000 9,910 10,690 11,120 11,010 11,060

Sources: Market research data; and data from the Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management (Virginia Polytechnic Institute).

A dash in the table means that data is not available.

This is a graph on wood waste management, spanning the years 1960 to 2015. This graph is measured in tons, and shows how much waste was recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery, and landfilled.

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