Wood RecyclAbility was set up in 1997 as a small social enterprise to provide practical work experience for people with additional support needs through working with waste wood. Over the last 21 years the organisation has grown steadily from 2 staff and 6 trainees in a small croft and out buildings to 10 staff and up to 32 trainees each day in a new purpose-built workshop, yard and 5 acres of agricultural land.
The organisation established itself during a period when several offshore oil companies in the Grampian area were reviewing their waste policies. Waste wood, mainly from packaging, was identified as an abundant and valued resource in the area, one that could be transformed in to a variety of useful products. As wood is an easy resource to work with, it has an array of uses and is ideal for providing trainees with a broad range of working experiences.
On average 1,500 tonnes of waste wood is collected and processed at the facility every year, mainly from offshore companies. Wood is graded on arrival and any contamination removed. Suitable clean wood is denailed and graded for reuse or recycling. Wood can be sold to local joiners or used to make a variety of products onsite including garden furniture, nest boxes, bird tables and other wildlife products. These products are sold, providing a valuable source of income.
Wood that is not suitable for crafting into these types of products can be used in the manufacture of chipboard and MDF. About 30 tonnes of wood is processed through our chipping machines each week and can be used as a raw ingredient in these board products or even to heat the workshop.
Trainees, who have a range of additional support needs, including autism, Downs Syndrome, and ABI (acquired brain injury) are involved in all aspects of the business. There are opportunities to work with hand and power tools, de-nail wood and construct various products as well as enjoy interaction with fellow trainees, customers, staff and visitors. Some trainees have used the project as a stepping stone towards full employment.
Wood RecyclAbility is a great example of how an organisation can be a sustainable business whilst providing an environmental and social benefit. This success was recognised on an international level when we were presented with an achievement award at the World Summit Business Awards in Johannesburg in 2002. After 21 years the future looks even better as plans for diversification into tyre and plastic recycling and the provision of furniture hire for the wedding/corporate market and a further expansion of the premises looks set to build on this success.
Since establishing in 1997, we currently facilitate 468 man hours every week for trainees and manufacture over 30 different standard products.
We have also:
- prevented over 30,000 tons of waste wood from going to landfill
- provided 8,500 tons of wood chip for the manufacture of fibre board for the construction industry.
Equivalent to nearly 14 Airbus A380 aircraft!