Growth for wood recycling co-op

We’ve helped Somerset Wood Recycling to buy a new van, updating its four vehicle fleet. It’s the third time this successful social enterprise, based in Weston-super-Mare, has used our flexible and supportive finance to help it grow and diversify.

The business has gone from strength to strength since it started in 2006 with two workers. It now has 14 employees and 25 volunteers. Last year two volunteers with mental health problems were appointed to part-time paid jobs.

Somerset Wood Recycling had a major breakthrough in 2010 when it won a contract from North Somerset Council to provide an outdoor maintenance and repairs service. Since then it has won more contracts from local authorities and housing associations. The original contract has been renewed until 2019.

In 2012 we provided a loan to help the enterprise move premises. Somerset Wood Recycling used this as an opportunity to expand and diversify its operations. It took on the lease of the Motex Centre, a large empty building in a highly visible location, and converted it into a social enterprise hub that now houses two children’s charities, an independent living centre and a green energy business as well as Somerset Wood Recycling.

Tristan Tudor, the manager and one of the founders, said: “We’ve got nearly four times as much space for a workshop, warehouse, showroom and office but with the rent from the other social enterprises it’s actually costing us less than our previous premises.”

Somerset Wood Recycling now has four distinct sources of income: from collection, from sale of timber and products, from contract maintenance and from rent.

Tristan Tudor said: “Although people think of us as a recycling business really the primary purpose is to provide volunteering and training opportunities. We have between 100 and 150 volunteers over the course of a year. They include people on Community Payback and people with addiction problems, learning difficulties or mental health issues.”

Our loan adviser, Ian Taylor said: “Since I first visited them five years ago, Somerset Wood Recycling has grown and diversified. It is a successful social enterprise that provides good cost-effective services and delivers social and environmental benefits. We are delighted to help finance the development of this business.”

About community wood recycling

There are at least 25 wood community wood recycling businesses in the UK. Most were started in the last 10 years. They are all social enterprises, operating primarily to deliver social and environmental benefits, and also efficient businesses that trade with the construction industry and the general public.
They collect waste wood and timber from building sites, businesses and domestic premises and take it to their warehouses where it is sorted. Most of the timber is sold for DIY or woodworking, and much of the rest is used to make various products for sale. Wood that cannot be reused is sold as fuel. This has obvious environmental benefits but the main purpose of the enterprises is to provide training and work opportunities for people who for various reasons find it difficult to get a job.