cascade use

A study by the Chair of Wood Science at the Technical University of Munich has proven the high savings potential of cascade utilisation: One ton of waste wood was first processed into sawn timber and then twice into chipboard. The same products were also made from fresh wood for comparison. In the cascade use, the efficiency of the use of resources was significantly higher – among other things due to the reduced use of fresh wood and the smaller space requirement. Nevertheless, the potential for the material use of waste wood is mostly not yet fully exploited today – because this requires new processes to be set up along the entire value-added chain, from production and use to recycling and reuse.1

Sustainable Cascade Use

  • increases the added value (factor 4 - 9)
  • secures jobs (factor 5 - 10)
  • enables innovations
  • helps the climate

Our average wood mix:

  • Pre-consumer material: 25 - 30 %
  • Post-consumer material: 30 - 40 %
  • Co-products: 30 - 35 %

Recycling rate 2/3

Circular Economy


Pfleiderer recognised years ago that cascade utilisation and recycling management are the only economic models that can guarantee sustainable production of high-quality wood products in the future. This is why we have already implemented intelligent wood cycles at our sites today. Sawing residues from the sawmill and recycled wood are therefore collected at our locations and prepared for further processing. In the production process, new wood-based panels of the highest quality are created by sorting, gluing, compacting and pressing. They are ideally suited for a wide range of applications in interior design and furniture production.

Integrated biomass power plants generate the electricity and heat required for drying and pressing the wood at our Baruth, Gütersloh and Neumarkt sites. The energy and heat generated there flows into our production processes. Surplus electricity is fed directly into the public electricity network.

The final step in the sustainable use of waste wood is its energetic recycling. At the Baruth site alone, Pfleiderer, as a certified waste management company, converts up to 250,000 tons of waste wood or plywood into thermal or electrical energy every year. For this purpose, we use combined heat and power plants and do almost completely without fossil fuels. In this way we produce heat and electricity in a climate-neutral way. In addition, the company operates its own wastewater treatment plant in Baruth, where the process water produced is purified.


of cascade use

The cascade use primarily helps to relieve the burden on sustainable forestry and save resources through the multiple processing of wood – the added value thus increases by a factor of 4 to 9. Since wood is also a very efficient CO2 storage medium, about one tonne of CO2 per cubic metre of wood remains bound over the extended service life of the valuable material.

But cascade use also opens up new perspectives from a business point of view. Cascade use not only secures jobs, but also inspires technological innovations and new developments in production processes.

Through cooperation with innovative partner companies such as HDF Recycling, with eight locations in the Netherlands and others in Germany, furniture manufacturers, DIY stores, recycling centres, joineries, manufacturers of made-to-measure parts and other users are actively integrated into the recycling cycle. In cooperation with Green Waste, a well-known provider of modern recycling management, HDF is responsible for taking back and processing old and waste wood for further processing in Pfleiderer's production plants.

In order to maintain the highest quality standards, Dutch HDF Recycling works in accordance with the German Waste Wood Ordinance and has all the relevant certifications.

Particular challenges arise here, for example, in the sorting and preparation of waste wood in accordance with the Waste Wood Ordinance for reuse. Here, mineral and metallic components must be removed and recycled. Chemical and organic impurities must also be excluded in order to achieve optimum and high-quality results in secondary recycling.

Thanks to innovative technologies and a sophisticated recycling management system, materials made from reused wood effortlessly guarantee the proven Pfleiderer standards in terms of quality and health.

To reliably meet the highest standards, foreign materials such as metals, nonmetals, plastics, sand and stones are first separated from the wood. Through careful sorting and controls, we ensure that only uncontaminated waste wood is supplied for material recycling. In this way, Pfleiderer guarantees environmentally friendly, healthy and high-quality engineered wood – first-class products even in the second life cycle of the green raw material!

Quality products from "waste“

Right from the start and since 2000 as a certified waste management company, Pfleiderer has been committed to the sustainable recycling of wood waste. When trees are processed into bars in a sawmill, for example, wood chips and sawdust are produced in addition to thinning and residual wood. These are not burned or disposed of at Pfleiderer, but are used in the production of wood-based materials – for example in the manufacture of wood fibre boards. Compared to chipboard, wood fibreboard is characterised by its finer, more uniform structure, which makes it particularly stable and allows it to be processed with precision. In contrast to natural wood panels, it is possible to always achieve the same product properties with wood fibres.

No restrictions

on product quality

In the past, there was often concern about whether products could actually meet the highest quality standards if the material was used several times. Today, Pfleiderer guarantees that only tested wood of grades A1 and A2 is reprocessed as post-consumer recycled material into wood-based materials. Our wood mix consists of 100 % recycled material. The average proportions are:

  • 25 - 30 % pre-consumer material
  • 40 % post-consumer material
  • 30 - 35 % coupling products (thinning, industrial and waste wood)

Read more about sustainability at Pfleiderer

These topics may also be of interest to you:

1Michael Risse, Gabriele Weber - Blaschke and Klaus Richter: Resource efficiency of multifunctional wood cascade chains using LCA and exergy analysis, exemplified by a case study for Germany, Resources, Conservation & Recycling 126, 141-152, 2017.