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Sonae Arauco invests €5M in two wood recycling centres

 Friday, May 31, 2024

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Sonae Arauco invests €5M in two wood recycling centres

Sonae Arauco, a prominent global entity in wood solutions catering to both furniture and construction sectors, unveils a significant venture: the allocation of resources towards establishing two additional wood recycling centers in Portugal, with a combined investment exceeding five million euros. Strategically positioned in the Minho region and northern outskirts of Lisbon, these centers will synergize
with the operations of the existing trio within the country. This strategic investment, aligned with the objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), underscores our commitment to sustainability and will reach fruition by the conclusion of 2025.

According to the figures released, Sonae Arauco incorporated a total of 734,000 tonnes of recycled wood in 2023, with wood recycling being the basis of its circular bioeconomy business model. In this respect, the company currently incorporates more than 70% of recycled wood in some of its product ranges, and expects to reach 85% in certain geographies over the next three years. If we consider the company’s entire portfolio, recycled wood represents 30% of the total used, which compares favourably with the average of 21% in the European wood-based panels industry.

For Rui Correia, CEO Sonae Arauco, “The increase in the number of recycling centres, also in Portugal, is part of Sonae Arauco’s strategy to incorporate more recycled wood into its products. Wood recycling didn’t exist 40 years ago.

Anticipating the trend towards the circularity of materials, we started this project in 1984 and since then we have made numerous investments in the area, both by investing in new technologies for processing this raw material in our industrial units and by increasing our capacity to receive more recycled wood, particularly through our centres.” He adds: “Although recycling has long been strategic for Sonae Arauco, the truth is that today it is vital for sustainability objectives and for the competitiveness of the business.”

Consequently, Sonae Arauco has outlined a comprehensive strategy for the next biennium, earmarking approximately 13 million euros for the purpose of advancing its mission to incorporate a higher proportion of recycled wood. This financial commitment will encompass the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment for both recycling centers and industrial facilities, aimed at optimizing wood waste processing efficiency and augmenting the capability to integrate larger volumes of recycled wood into particleboard solutions. Concurrently, the company is actively engaged in pioneering research and development endeavors to facilitate the integration of recycled wood fibers into MDF solutions, epitomizing its dedication to innovation and sustainability.

In Portugal, Sonae Arauco oversees three recycling centers managed by Ecociclo, situated in the districts of Porto (Alfena – Valongo), Setúbal (Seixal), and Coimbra (Souselas). Meanwhile, in Spain, the company operates under the name Tecmasa, managing a network of nine recycling centers. The overarching objective is to achieve a 60% increase in wood collection at these centers by the year 2034, surpassing the 2014 figures by an impressive 150%.

Wood recycling activities at these centers are facilitated through approximately 700 containers provided by Sonae Arauco across Portugal and Spain. These containers enable the direct collection of waste materials, spanning from pallets to packaging, furniture, doors, construction materials, and urban waste. Additionally, industrial by-products such as slabs, sawdust, or chips are reclaimed and reintegrated into the industrial process, further enhancing sustainability efforts.

Sonae Arauco’s circular bioeconomy model

With a team of around 70 people working in recycling, Sonae Arauco’s business respects the principle of using wood in a cascade. This is one of the pillars of the company’s business model.

Wood forms the basis of Sonae Arauco’s value chain, which begins with the use of sustainably sourced raw materials, incorporates by-products from the wood industry and, in a circular approach, closes the cycle with the reuse and recycling of waste, which is also used in the manufacture of wood-based panels, thus keeping this material in circulation. This is a virtuous cycle, and recycled wood can be reintegrated into the process countless times as way of retaining carbon dioxide, making it an excellent alternative to fossil-based materials.

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