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Cowie’s recycling program reduces waste and delivers savings

West Fraser’s MDF and particleboard manufacturing plant in Cowie, Scotland

As the UK’s number one producer of net carbon negative engineered wood-based panel products, West Fraser (trading as Norbord) understands the importance of having sustainable operations.  With a strong commitment to the environment and the communities in which the company operates, there is a dedication to recovering as much value as possible from the resources used to produce its products while working to minimise waste and greenhouse gas emissions.  At the Cowie site in Scotland, West Fraser is working in partnership with a leading third-party provider of recycling and resource recovery to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill while also achieving substantial cost savings.

West Fraser operates state-of-the-art MDF and particleboard production lines at its Cowie site. In 2021, more than 3,200 tonnes of waste were removed from the site as part of its recycling programme. Compared to the previous year, the recycling rate at the Cowie site has improved 10%, with 62% of waste now recycled on-site. This is expected to increase to 66% by the end of 2022.   

A high proportion of the waste generated at Cowie comes from West Fraser’s use of recycled wood during its manufacturing process for its MDF and particleboard products. To remove any scrap materials that would interfere with the manufacturing process, the wood is screened before use, which generates a variety of dry mixed recycling waste. To make the collection of this waste more efficient, larger recycling bins are now being utilised and have been strategically placed across the site. As a result, vehicle movements on site have been reduced by 11% and often take place at night, resulting in fewer potentially hazardous interactions with site personnel and reducing impact on site activities. Together, these strategies have enabled a 37% reduction in waste and savings of more than £24,000 in transport and disposal costs, while also reducing vehicle emissions.

Compliance management and safety are also important considerations of the program. Audits are regularly undertaken to maintain compliance to waste regulations and help ensure safety of employees and contractors visiting the Cowie site remains a top priority for all those involved.

Looking to the future, West Fraser and its recycling partner are exploring other ways to continue diverting wastes from landfill, including specialised equipment that recovers light plastics and films to further enhance the opportunities to recover recyclable materials from West Fraser’s waste stream.

For further information, call 01786 812 921 or visit

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