By using reclaimed wood, you can reduce the environmental impact of logging, which in turn reduces the costs of your property’s timber.
The process of recycling timber is not a new concept, but the process of processing wood to produce pulp is.
While the pulp used to make paper and plastic can be recycled, the pulp that makes up timber pulp is processed in a different way.
“Wood is a high-value product and it can be used in many ways,” says Joanne O’Connor, chief executive of Sustainable Timber Processing, an organisation that runs a local processing plant and processes reclaimed wood.
“There are many ways to use reclaimed wood and there are different processes you can use it in.”
It’s this difference that O’Conners team is hoping will allow them to develop a more environmentally-friendly pulp.
The first step is to identify where timber can be harvested.
“If it is close to a water source, that is good,” says O’Connell.
“Otherwise, it’s not as good.”
Once that’s determined, it is important to choose a timber processing facility that meets their requirements.
“You need to know what the process is,” she says.
“We do a lot of research into what the processes are in the timber, what the quality is, what types of processing you want to do.”
This requires a detailed knowledge of the products they will be using, and the types of materials they will need.
The company uses traditional processes like sawing, sawing at high temperatures and high pressure to remove the wood from the forest.
“The process is like the way we do the harvest here in Perth,” O’Connors explains.
“But we’re using the process that’s been around for a very long time and it is environmentally friendly.”
The company then uses reclaimed wood pulp to create a pulp that can be mixed with other materials and transported to the pulp mill where it is processed.
“Once you’ve mixed it, you put it in a steel container and put it into the pulp, and then you put the pulp into a bag and put the bag into the container and ship it to the mill,” she explains.
At the mill, the finished pulp is mixed with a new type of process called metamaterials, which is a mixture of materials that has been removed from the original wood and is more than 20 per cent carbon free.
“So, it has a high amount of carbon that’s not in the original tree,” she adds.
“Then it goes through a series of chemical reactions, it goes into a processing machine that’s very different to anything you’ve ever done before.”
She adds that, because the process uses different materials, there’s no risk of them damaging the wood.
At this stage, the wood pulp is then packed into wooden crates that are sent off to a landfill.
The final step is packaging the pulp in a plastic bag that is then transported to a processing facility.
“All of this happens under the same roof,” says the company’s chief executive, John O’Sullivan.
“And then it’s then sent off, through the pipeline, to the processing plant.
The pulp is transported to that plant and then to the finished product.”
It takes about 10 days to deliver the product to consumers.
“They’re shipped out and they’re packed in the packaging and they leave the packaging, which will be wrapped and sealed, and they go to the landfill,” says Mr O’Reilly.
“It’s done in a very environmentally-secure way.
There’s no impact on the environment.”
The process takes about two weeks to produce the finished paper pulp.
Sustainable Timber Processing also uses recycled materials such as recycled wood, reclaimed cardboard and reclaimed wood screws.
“Our recycling is done through recycled materials, which means it’s done with high quality,” says John Oates.
“With all of that, it will still be recycled.”
He says it’s a “good example” of the company trying to reduce the impact of its process.
“These are things that are going to be recycled and it’s the same as going into the landfill.”
When it comes to the waste, we’re doing our own research and we’re not taking anything away from the environment, and that’s a good example of that,” he says.