What does sustainability mean to us?

We are very proud to be part of the renewable energy sector and feel a responsibility to be careful in our decision making. We believe that sustainability has many aspects; what we produce, how we package and distribute it, what we consume as a company, how we take care of our company and our staff. Our goal is to be transparent, so you can see what decisions we’ve made and what we’re working towards. There are very few perfect options, but there are some that will minimize or reduce our environmental impact. We believe that if the corporate and individual decisions that each of us make are taken with kindness and care, both for the people with whom we share this world and for the world we share with them, that this is a powerful force for change.

We aim to manufacture products that value the energy, time and skill used in their manufacture so that;

  • They last a long time
  • Have replacement parts, to further increase their lifespan
  • We reject the concept of planned obsolescence in the design of our products

We are actively working towards the goal in which everything we use, sell and consume as a business;

  • Does more good than harm?
  • It is compostable / reusable / recyclable?
  • Or can be allowed to degrade safely at the end of the product’s useful life, to minimize waste going to landfill?

You can read more about the steps we have taken towards a more sustainable business...

Wood as Fuel (click to reveal)

Wood is a genuinely renewable fuel. It is fuel that literally grows out of the ground. Wood grown for fuel is a harvested managed crop. In a well-managed system, once it is harvested it is replanted. It is sometime misrepresented as an industry that destroys forests and habitats, quite the opposite is true in the UK and much of Europe. Much forestry is planted and managed commercially precisely because there is demand for wood for the construction industry, for furniture and for fuel. Wood grown commercially is a slow return crop, but it is a crop. Woodland and forest planted and managed for leisure and carbon sinks are different but even these incredible resources still need managing and trees need thinning. All trees have a natural lifespan and are affected by extremes of weather particularly wind damage and will self-seed and become overcrowded.

The concept of sustainable forest management is defined in the Forest Europe process, to which the UK is a signatory, as: ‘the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems’.

THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF USING WOOD AND WOOD PRODUCTS

1. Carbon saving – As a substitute for fossil fuel, wood is one of the natural resources that can provide a contribution to climate change mitigation.

2. Carbon sequestration – Trees lock up carbon over their lifetime, in timber and in woodland soil. Trees release that carbon as the trees die naturally OR if they are burnt as fuel. The stored carbon is released either way. When wood is cropped, there is a small carbon deficit to allow for processing and transport. However commercial interests will dictate that those trees are replanted, to create the next crop for the landowner,  storing carbon once more.

3. Security of supply – A well-developed local wood energy supply chain has the potential to significantly increase security of supply, particularly in areas with limited options such as rural areas that are off the gas grid. Wood has the potential, if fully developed as a sector in the UK, to not cross international political boundaries or be caught up conflict zone decisions.

4. Fuel poverty – Wood energy could play a role in reducing fuel poverty, for example by delivering heat to new-build affordable rural housing. A stove purchase and installation is not a cheap initial option, but once installed there are no standing charges. If it’s not on and by necessity you only burn it over the coldest months, then you only pay for what you use. If you are using a cooker stove, you can cook and heat from the same fuel load.

5. Waste management – Incredibly a lot of waste wood still ends up in landfill,  called arboricultural uprising (the wood from felling, pruning and safety operations carried out on trees in built up areas and along transport corridors). It may not all be suitable for domestic stove burning- but a sector few people consider and may have a role in biomass production.

6. Biodiversity and sustainable forestry – Better management of existing woodland would contribute to an increase in the biodiversity and productivity of our woodlands. A sector of our woodlands are currently undermanaged and/or utilised. A revitalised woodland sector is vital and will reduce the amount of new woodland creation and imported wood needed to meet future demands.

7. The rural economy – Stimulation of a sustainable supply chain will require a workforce, including installers, plumbers, forestry staff and small-scale hauliers, primarily concentrated in rural areas. The UK currently imports wood, there may be a future where we could be self-reliant in the UK, with revitalised and local woodlands and local jobs.

8. Empowering local communities to see climate change as local issue – Where individual and small group actions can make a difference, for example tree planting scheme, enhancing local woodlands, boosting the rural economy by buying from local wood suppliers. Raising awareness is central to many strategies to achieve change. This is issue identified in “A Woodfuel Strategy for England” (forestresearch.gov.uk)

Our belief is that without commercial interest and support from stakeholders and users purchasing wood and timber products these aims are so much less achievable. This requires investment and commitment from government, private sector, individuals and communities.

FURTHER READING

A Woodfuel Strategy for England (forestresearch.gov.uk)fce-woodfuel-strategy.pdf (forestresearch.gov.uk)

The National Wood Strategy (ILG- The England Forest and Wood Based Industries leadership group) theplusnationalpluswoodplusstrategyplus2023.pdf (confor.org.uk)

Woodlands for Wales (gov.wales) Woodlands for Wales: strategy | GOV.WALES

Scottish Forestry – (gov.scotland) Scottish Forestry – Forestry Strategy

Ireland’s Forest strategy (gov.ie)  gov – Ireland’s Forest Strategy (2023 – 2030) (www.gov.ie)

 

Our Stoves (click to reveal)

We manufacture our stoves from sheet steel There are also some cast and turned elements, ceramic glass and vermiculite insulating bricks.

Steel uses huge amount of energy in its production and so we design our stoves to last as long as possible to maximise the use of that energy input. We manufacture them to have replacement parts to increase the longevity further. We do not believe that designing for planned obsolescence is supportable. At the end of its life steel can be recycled. Every steel plant uses scrap steel as part of its materials mix. The magnetic properties of steel make it easy to segregate from mixed waste. There is the potential to reduce carbon emissions from steel furnaces, replacing some blast furnaces with electric arc furnaces, currently being balanced with job losses. Steel is still less carbon emitting than potential alternatives. We recycle any steel scraps left at the end of the stove production process.

FURTHER READING

What is steel scrap and how can it help us reach net zero? | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

How we make steel (britishsteel.co.uk)

Vermiculite is aluminium-magnesium silicate. It is naturally occurring mined mineral, pressed into a board, then cut to shape. It is used to insulate the stove body from the heat of the fire, other uses of vermiculite include domestic insulation and plant potting. It will degrade over its lifecycle and it may crack and need replacing. However, it is non-hazardous and considered harmless, though gloves are recommended if you are prone to skin irritation. In large industrial volumes dust created might cause irritation to eyes and respiratory system, as any particulate dust in quantity would. It is not readily biodegradable, but as it is non-toxic is thought to do no harm for a small amount like a few fire bricks to be allowed to break down in a garden.
Alternatively, it can go into general rubbish.

FURTHER READING

Vermiculite Boards • Products • Dupré Minerals (dupreminerals.com)

Ceramic glass is lithium- aluminium-silicate. Transparent and super heat resistant stove glass is a ceramic material developed specifically for this purpose. It is kiln fired at very high temperatures. It may last as long as the stove itself, it may lose its clarity, or it might get an accidental crack and need replacing. There are no domestic household collections for ceramic recycling, that we have come across. Some councils may accept ceramics in brick and concrete recycling- but this is at organised recycling depos not kerbside. It should not be disposed of in glass recycling as it may contaminate an entire batch of glass- due to the higher temperature required to melt it, (out of interest mirrors and pyrex dishes should also not go into glass recycling).

FURTHER READING

NeoCeram – Ceramic Glass
Glass-ceramic – Wikipedia

Branded Products (click to reveal)

We develop our own branded products as much as possible with local, Welsh and UK suppliers. We aim to develop products that are well made and made to last and can be composted or recycled at the end of their lifespan. If we cannot source it in the UK, we will look elsewhere if our trading partners can meet our other criteria, until we can find a local supplier. For example, we work with a local Welsh potter to develop of ceramic cookware and a company in Yorkshire for our aluminium cookware. Our oven gauntlets are woven and manufactured in the UK. Our coasters, our cloths, buffs, candles, wax melts and pine- cone firelighters and soaps are all made here in Wales.

One challenge we have had it to develop a penguin toy “Chilli the Penguin”- there are very few mascot toy makers based in the UK. There are high end collectible companies- making wonderful products but not close to our price point. So, we have worked with a UK company, whose manufacturing units are overseas. This project has taken over 3 years to achieve, using degradable fillings, fabric, labelling, eyes and threads. The project has tripped up over material usage multiple times, but we think Chilli has been worth the wait!

OTHER PRODUCTS WE STOCK – products that are difficult to source in the UK is kettles/coffee pots – so we buy kettles through a UK distributor who imports them. We select these items with heavy bases that are good quality, so they last.

Our Packaging (click to reveal)

We have made several steps with packaging;

Individual wooden stove pallets – we replaced our previous formed press-wood pallets, with small wooden pallets, these can be stripped down after use, nails removed and used for kindling.

Shipping pallets – we re-use pallets from neighbouring companies incoming goods, there is cost saving on materials but additional labour for collection, but the pallet gets re-used.

Stove bags, we have replaced the plastic bags that cover the stoves with a biodegradable, compostable bag.

Boxes and paper tape; the stoves, accessories and parcels are all boxed in cardboard and sealed with paper tape, which can be composted or recycled.

Cardboard shredding – we shred all incoming cardboard, to use for parcel packaging.

Reusable packaging- if we receive non degradable packaging in our incoming goods we will try to re use it. We don’t like material such as bubble wrap, but we would rather reuse it then send it to landfill. We try to add a note to parcels if we are recirculating this kind of packaging.

We use cling wrap and blue strapping to hold the stoves together on the pallet and hold them onto the shipping pallet. The cling wrap can go into clear plastic recycling, but we are actively following the current development in cling wrap alternatives. We can’t find an alternative that has enough strength to replace the polyester/polypropylene strapping currently- but are open to suggestions/recommendations.

Marketing Materials (click to reveal)

We use FSC paper and veg ink for our brochure, manuals, postcards, stove toppers, stove labels, branded product labels and posters. We make manuals and brochure available digitally for customer who don’t want paper versions.

We use pressed pulp coasters for our “register your warranty” messages.

We use wooden blocks for our stove topper holders and wooden/metal signs for our promotional in store signs and colour samples.

Workshop & Office Consumables (click to reveal)

We buy all bathroom/kitchen consumables in bulk. We have a compost bin for paper towels and kitchen scraps. We take metal scrap to our local metal collection centre. We shred and compost scrap paper. We are using refillable pens in the office, just experimenting with refillable markers and highlighters.
The workshop and offices are heated with our own wood stoves. We purchase our wood locally

Work in Progress

However, although we have made progress we are a long way from perfect. Although we separate all of our rubbish/recycling and have compost bins at work, we still have our wheelie bin collected once a month, with general rubbish for which we currently have no solution. Though we are huge fans of cycling and cycle routes few of us cycle to work during wet windy Welsh winters. We still use blue strapping for the pallets and cling wrap to keep them secure and dry. We are actively looking for alternatives, but these are some our current challenges.