Upcycling of the biomass residues and wastes is a necessary innovation within the given environmental and economic trends, policies and regulations, competition and depletion of natural resources taking place nowadays. Thus, wood pallet upcycling is chosen in this thesis to be the ambassador of biomass.
Research is built upon the fundamentals of the waste hierarchy of Lansink ladder and on the circular economy.
Interviews and case study analysis were crucial in drawing the conclusions and stimulating a thorough discussion within the concept of upcycling versus other processing management scenarios happening daily, such as waste to energy, incineration and even dumping of wood wastes.
Upcycling (cascading), is built on adding value to the waste by coming up with new products and increasing the lifespan of the infinite woody products.
The cascading takes place first as a manufacturing phase, this manufacturing shows a tremendous panorama of possible products covering the great demand on such homeware, kitchenware, pavilions, and other sectors. Then, and after the end of the lifespan of the new product, the second phase is generating biofuels from the biomass products using a complex process starting from gasification and ending up with Fischer-Tropsch process to produce for example, biodiesel, ethanol or jet fuels within a long list of high value biofuels.
In general, the tackling of such transition economically required addressing important indicators represented in policy, market, technical implementation, environmental and stakeholders involvement.
Environmentally, life cycle assessment indicators were projected to find out the influencing factors, those indicators include the land-use change, GHG, the premise of the neutrality of burning biomass to generate electricity, carbon capture, monocultures and biodiversity, fossil-based materials substitution, distinguishing between by-products and wastes, etc...
An action plan (system outline), forms the practical final tip to this research by giving guidance of a pathway striving to achieve a stable and secure transition towards upcycling using a robust and mutual collaboration between the valued stakeholders, which are represented by the government, acting authorities such as municipalities, companies active in the wood market sector (recyclers, pallet pooling, manufacturers).
This collaboration has increased chances to be a key player only if a new set of policies exist, these policies shift a share of the incentives given to energy towards upcycling, activate the role of the SMEs, and act as a forcing tool to retrieve used pallets using the deployment of EPR and GPP tools.
Finally, this study is considered as a master plan for similar biomass wastes and can be complemented with quantitative studies to reach further horizons supporting the premises addressed in this paper.