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Doing good with wood: Bristol Wood Recycling Project

Case study

Published
11th November 2017
Topic
What is a co-op?
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in the workshop at the Bristol Wood Recycling Project

Bristol Wood Recycling Project collects tonnes of good quality timber from construction yards and other businesses around the city that would otherwise be wasted.

They bring the wood back to their site and either sell it on or make amazing wooden products in their workshop. They have saved an incredible 4,000 tonnes of wood from landfill already.

Bristol Wood Recycling is one of a network of wood recycling projects across the UK. What sets it apart is that it’s a co-op, owned and run by the employees and volunteers who work there. 

Kaleb Debbage, Workshop Manager, said: “We don’t work like a typical business or a typical structure or a workplace. We do it together. Being a co-op means we can reflect everybody that’s within it – everybody’s views have an opportunity to be aired and the decisions we make are very much the collective will of all of us.”

The co-op has nine paid employees and works with hundreds of volunteers. Last year alone volunteers put in 1,000 days of work.

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Being a co-op means we can reflect everybody that’s within it – everybody’s views have an opportunity to be aired and the decisions we make.
– Kaleb Debbage, Workshop Manager

“Routinely, in the workshop I might have people whose first language isn’t English. Or I might have elderly retired people, or people with mild learning difficulties or who are going through some mental health difficulties,” continues Kaleb.

“Providing those people with a place where they can have a structured task, learn some new things and most importantly be together with other people from completely different places, that’s one of the most valuable aspects of what we do.”

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Jonathan Lane, volunteer at Bristol Wood Recycling, said: “Some people join because they hear that it’s a good place to volunteer. Some join because they want to train in the workshop. Everyone’s here because they want to be constructive, either for themselves or for other people.” 

Bristol Wood Recycling applied to The Hive for training and support around governance procedures within the co-operative. Kaleb’s pleased with the results: “Now we have a directorship that everyone wants to be a part of and we've got clear responsibilities and procedures for becoming a director.”

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Everyone’s here because they want to be constructive, either for themselves or for other people.
– Jonathan Lane, volunteer
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Members of Bristol Wood Recycling co-op

Find out about wood recycling projects near you – or start your own! Bristol Wood Recycling is one of a number of similar organisations across the country offering an efficient and sustainable service to the building and construction industry. We've got some contacts and links to get you thinking about how to set up your own Wood Recycling Project.

Find out more

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Get support for start-up and existing co-ops.
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