Celebrating Twenty Years of Bristol Wood Recycling Project

By Published On: June 26, 2024Categories: Local news, Network news

Celebrating Twenty Years of Bristol Wood Recycling Project

Bristol Wood Recycling Project (BWRP) was the first enterprise to be set up on the original model created by Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling Project, and led the way in building the Community Wood Recycling network. From being a pioneer of the circular and social economies in the city, BWRP has become a beacon of sustainability, fulfilling its community and environmental objectives and employing twelve members of staff whilst hosting volunteers and rescuing and re-using wood every day. Since the project’s founding the team have recycled over 6,000 tonnes of wood and provided training opportunities to more than 700 volunteers.

The team have taken the initial model and made it their own, adopting a co-operative structure that empowers their workers, and securing funding for a permanent home after losing their site to redevelopment. We congratulate everyone involved and wish them every success in the future.

On June 21st they held a party to celebrate their 20 year anniversary, including a visit by co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, who said:

“It’s a pleasure to be able to join in the celebrations of Bristol Wood Recycling Project’s 20th birthday. Bristol’s identity as a green city – made up of vibrant businesses and social, environmental and cultural projects – is exemplified by BWRP.

Doing good for people and planet, creating meaningful, low-carbon employment, and working cooperatively for a vibrant and regenerative economy; BWRP is exemplary of what businesses can and should be striving towards. It is a business not just of today, but of the future.

BWRP has been operating and thriving under this model for 20 years. It demonstrates that the Green economy here in Bristol and beyond is here to stay, and sets a model that so many others can and will follow.”

Ben Moss, co-founder added:

“We can’t quite believe we’ve made it to this significant milestone! What started off as a good idea has flourished in to cultural landmark in our city, the kind of ‘green enterprise’ that people associate Bristol with.

From starting off as outliers, we now hold a middle ground of practices that define a positive way of doing things – reusing and reclaiming, working as a co-operative, having strong social and environmental objectives, equality and parity in the workplace (we all get paid the same wage) – we are putting into practice what others know to be the way the future should look.

And although we have been running for 20 years, we feel young – and our ideas for how we can continue feel as fresh and as vibrant as they ever did. We’re looking forward to what the next twenty years might hold, as our way of doing things becomes ever more important in these times of great change.”

Richard Mehmed, founder of Community Wood Recycling, said:

“I remember the early days of the Bristol Wood Recycling Project, helping to set up the first few wood racks in the pouring rain. Thank goodness for the positive attitude of Ben and his volunteers! They turned an initially daunting plan into an exciting project which has had a national impact. BWRP has truly helped to blaze a trail for sustainability, pioneering a greener way of doing things during an era when environmental concerns were largely ignored”.

Green Woodwork in Bristol: Tree To Treen

Geoff’s transformation from a volunteer at BWRP to the owner of Tree to Treen is a powerful example of the project’s impact. His time with them from 2018 to 2020 was filled with learning and growth, culminating in his own green woodworking business. Geoff’s workshop, built with wood from BWRP, now offers a range of courses for 2024, including spoon carving, woodturning, and even leather tanning. Here’s what he had to say about his time with BWRP and beyond:

How long did you volunteer with Bristol Wood Recycling?

“2 years between 2018 and 2020 including the move to the new location on William Street.”

What did you enjoy most about your time there?

“Every time I went in, I felt like I learned something from either staff or other volunteers; from the ideal wood for a job, to the best way to remove a troublesome nail. I loved visiting the building sites and saving good wood from becoming waste!”

What are you up to now?

“I am a green woodworker with my own workshop and teaching space at Grow Wilder in Frenchay, Bristol. My company name is Tree to Treen. Treen is the word for small household items made of wood. A fair amount of my workshop is built from wood from the Bristol Wood Recycling Project, and I’m still using all the screws I salvaged when moving from the old site!”

Are there any events or products you want people to know about?

“2024 courses are now live both taught by me and a variety of talented guest tutors. From spoon carving, to woodturning, to basketry, there are lots to choose from. We even have a leather tanning course this year in the first step away from wood-based courses.”

Book a place or find out more about the courses on offer at www.treetotreen.com/workshops.