I don’t think a day goes by now where we don’t think about the impact that the amazing David Attenborough had on us all in terms of finally facing the facts about plastic with those unforgettable images of plastic lodged in the mouth of a fish.
Also, the number of questions we get asked about plastic used within our business is increasing all the time, so I thought I should perhaps answer some of these queries and concerns.
With wood fired kilns and much of our electricity produced from our solar panels and the fact that all our firewood and timber is sourced from within a 100 mile radius of Hereford and taken from natural thinning of woodland, in addition to planting trees, I like to think that we start off from a reasonably strong ethical stance on the environment.
However, we can always do more, but change takes time. Two years ago we reviewed our plastic usage and moved to a thinner micron plastic bag which has the same strength. Across the business, this reduced our plastic input by 20 tonnes. This year we have taken that a step further and not only ensure all plastic is 100% recyclable but also moved our small bags to include 30% of the material to be used from recycled plastic – this will be legislation in 2 years’ time, but we are doing it now. The window on our Flamers packaging is now moving from plastic to corn starch. We are also reducing the thickness of our pallet wrap and this will almost half the weight of plastic used per pallet.
A high percentage of our kiln dried logs are supplied in bulk bags and these are our preferred method of supply and for those of you that buy in this form will also note that we send a grey mailer bag (made from 100% recycled material) for you to return back to us for re-use. Some of our national customers prefer the small bags as its easier to handle and carry to the garage or house for storage, but we would much prefer if people bought our bulk bags.
Much of our small bags, and boxes of kindling are supplied to retail outlets for people to buy small quantities. Traditionally, these have always been stored and displayed outside and so are open to the elements and this is why plastic bags work so much better as they help to keep the product dry and ensuring the best quality all the way to the customer. We looked to stop putting the plastic wrap around the kindling box, but retailers told us the cardboard would get wet and the boxes disintegrate. It’s a challenge and we continue to discuss with our retailers as to the best way forward and I feel that as with all these things, there is a shared responsibility. If retailers could guarantee 100% dry storage and display, then we could look at alternatives.
As a company we will continue to look at reducing plastic and further improving on our environmental credentials and significantly increasing our tree planting initiative.
If customers are able to review the way they purchase their logs from us and if buying the small bags are able to switch to the bulk bags, which can also be returned to us for re-use, then that would be most helpful, and if you are able to help our tree planting initiative, then that would be even better.