VIDEO: Bristol Wood Recycling Project

“The construction industry throws away huge quantities of timber every day.”

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.

What makes this project so special?

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 that work there. Kaleb Debbage, Workshop Manager, says: 

“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.”

Bristol Wood Recycling has nine paid employees and works with 100s of volunteers. Last year alone volunteers put in 1,000 days of work.

"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.”

“Providing those people 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.”

Jonathan Lane, volunteer at Bristol Wood Recycling goes on to say:

“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 some training and support around governance procedures within the co-operative. Kaleb says:

“Now we have a directorship which everyone wants to be a part of and we've got clear responsibilities and procedures for becoming a director.”

Feeling inspired? Here's what you can do.

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  • Find out about wood recycling projects near you – or start your ownBristol 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.

  • How can The Hive help you? We support new start co-ops or existing co-ops to grow and strengthen: http://www.thehive.coop/reimagine


About Bristol Wood Recycling Project

The video features Bristol Wood Recycling Project: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Brought to you by Co‑operatives UK in partnership with The Co‑operative Bank. Captured by Blake House Filmmakers Co‑operative, who also received support from The Hive.

Written by leila.osullivan
Updated: 12/10/2017