Alternative option for wood disposal

A social enterprise in Oxfordshire aims to increase the amount of wood being reused and recycled rather than being sent to landfill sites, following a loan for equipment purchases and working capital from Co-operative & Community Finance.

Oxford Wood Recycling operates a waste wood collection service from an industrial unit in Didcot, collecting timber from businesses in a 30 mile radius.

The team collects waste wood, timber and pallets from construction sites, business premises, and universities/colleges carrying out 60 plus collections a month.

Collections are made by paid staff who load by hand into a caged truck, separating clean re-usable timber as they load. Up to 12 cubic yards of waste wood can be collected, over 1,200kg in weight- which is approximately 50 pallets in size.

Fees for collection are always lower than the cost of a mixed builders skip, because the collectors stack the material very efficiently in the truck.

Richard Snow, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Wood Recycling, said: “We are the only wood collection service in Oxfordshire that offers to reuse timber. We are an economic and environmental alternative to a skip.”

The truck is then driven to the Oxford Wood Recycling industrial unit where, on average 15% – 20% of the timber is stored for re-use. The remainder is taken to a licensed recycler for shredding, with the end use mainly being energy generation..

Re-useable timber is then sold for DIY use or sawn and bagged for firewood. Prices for second hand timber are generally half of what a customer would pay for new . Customers are able to buy directly from the business at The Wood Shop which is located at the industrial unit, and special bulk buys of wood can be purchased online.

Part of the loan was used to design and fit two bespoke vehicles with features such as a tipping body, a custom fitted cage and onboard weighing scales. The completed vehicles were introduced to the fleet in November and December. One original truck is still in operation, and is now used to offer a reclaimed wood delivery service to customers. The rest of the loan was been used to purchase machinery to help grow a firewood business.

Kindling and firewood is sold wholesale to more than 30 convenience stores. The hope is to increase this to 70 shops, garden centres and 20 petrol stations in the coming three years.

As well as the environmental benefits the business aims to provide employment and volunteering opportunities for those people facing real barriers to working.

Ian Taylor, from Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “We were very impressed that the business not only had a realistic commercial approach but also had a beneficial social function, offering employment and volunteer opportunities to people who are finding a route back into work difficult.”