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New life from dead wood

Posted: 3rd June 2019

There’s no such thing as dead wood for one Edinburgh-based social enterprise whose circular economy approach to business is paying dividends in all kinds of ways.

Move On Wood Recycling (MOWR) collects, re-uses and recycles wood waste from trade and domestic customers and in the process helps save money and reduce carbon at every turn. In addition, the company is creating job, training and volunteering opportunities.

The way we traditionally design, build and use products means that a lot of it goes to waste. A circular economy looks to keep the flow of materials and products within the economy for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use.

Circular Edinburgh is a joint initiative delivered by Zero Waste Scotland and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, with funding support from the European Regional Development Fund.

MOWR embraces circular economic thinking, and Operations Manager James Chapman said: “By engaging with the Circular Edinburgh team we feel part of a movement rather than an isolated project.”

James explained that a constant flow of waste wood is being collected by commercial waste companies, with 100% of this timber simply being turned into chips for chipboard. “The challenge is to intercept this waste stream and to re-purpose as much timber as possible.  Commercial waste wood management is a high carbon activity with relatively few jobs per tonne of wood handled.”

MOWR is operated by homelessness prevention charity Move On, and is also a franchise member of the national body, National Community Wood Recycling. It works with both domestic and trade customers, collecting anything made from wood, and its collection service is usually cheaper than hiring skips and other traditional methods.

The waste is collected in a special truck, and hand-packed to reduce wasted space and reduce journeys.

James said: “Collecting in a hand-packed 3.5 tonne pick-up is the most environmentally friendly method, saving carbon as less fuel is used, less pollution is generated and more material can be saved for reuse.

“Paid–for collections are at the very heart of the MOWR model. Not only do they supply the wood that gets sold or used in some other way to fulfil our environmental goals, they also generate a sustainable income stream. We bring all the timber back to our workshop where it is sorted, cleaned, sold in our shop and made into furniture.

“We currently re-purpose 60% of the timber we collect whilst providing volunteer opportunities and training to young, unemployed people.”

As well as selling products created through the re-use of the timber collected, MOWR also sells timber itself, again often at prices 40% cheaper than new timber.

Circular Edinburgh is supported by funding from both the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the £73million Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme. Circular Edinburgh delivers a programme of knowledge sharing events, workshops and roundtable discussions to promote the ‘Circular Economy’ to local businesses.

For further information please visit or contact Mayan Grace or Aileen Boyle on 0131 221 2999 (option 5) or email








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