What do we mean by Sustainability?
For BEDMAX, being sustainable or environmentally responsible covers the whole process of making our shavings, from sourcing raw timber to the disposal of used shavings by our customers:
- We source timber only from managed, renewable forestry in the UK
- We source timber as close to our 3 plants as possible to minimise transport
- We use the whole timber, including the bark
- We recycle the dust we extract to make HOTMAX heat logs
- We've funded research to establish that the best way to dispose of used shavings...
Sourcing local, sustainable timber
We use only renewable forestry timber to make our shavings, and wherever possible we buy it as close to our production plants as possible to minimise the environmental impact (and cost) of transport.
Recycling the extracted dust
Furthermore, almost none of the timber we use is wasted. We don't de-bark it (which is why you see some s
mall particles of dark bark in your shavings - they're a natural, beneficial part of the timber) and we collect all the dust and particles we filter out and compress them into fuel logs to create an
ideal, natural, high energy fuel for woodburners and stoves. Read more about HOTMAX Fuel Logs...
Composting your used shavings
Because this is a question we are asked increasingly by customers, we carried out a research study to determine the best way to recycle used shavings.
The results showed that you can compost used shavings with organic waste matter (i.e. horse poo) in 4 - 6 months, then return them to the soil. We have anecdotal evidence that horses may actually prefer grazing on grass that has been treated with composted shavings and dung. Read more about recycling your shavings...
What does 'renewable' timber mean?
The timber we buy comes from forestry that is ‘farmed’ in a similar way to any other cyclical crop - like wheat, for example. The cycle for timber is much longer, of course. Where wheat is grown and harvested in a yearly cycle, timber takes many years, but basically the principle is the same. Renewable forestry trees are planted as seeds or small saplings, left to grow and then harvested. New seeds or saplings are then planted to replace the harvested crop of timber.
Because the growth cycle for timber is so much longer than an annual crop like wheat, however, there is one key difference in forestry management. In a sustainable forest, the whole crop is not planted, grown and harvested at the same time. The forest is divided into many different areas which will be at different stages in the cycle at any given time. So while one area is being harvested, another is being planted, and many others are at different stages of growth.
This means the forest managers can keep cutting a certain proportion of the timber from the whole forest, without depleting the overall crop.
What this proportion can be depends on a lot of factors, including the kind of timber being grown, how fast it grows, the soil quality and the growing conditions. Together, these factors determine how much new timber will grow every day.
To give one example, we buy a lot of timber from Kielder Forest for our plant at Detchant in Northumberland. We try and buy as locally as possible for all three BEDMAX plants to minimise transport, and Kielder is only about 40 miles from our plant at Greymare Farm.
Kielder is the largest forest in England. It is 250 square miles, and its managers know that the average annual collective growth rate of the various species of softwood trees planted on that area is 1,000 tonnes a day. In other words, the millions of trees planted in Kielder Forest produce 365,000 tonnes of new growth every year. So that is the absolute maximum tonnage of timber that will be harvested each year.
This makes economic common sense, but UK forests are managed responsibly to safeguard the environment as well. Sustainability in UK forestry management today includes planting native deciduous trees, protecting rivers and streams, and providing secure habitats for some of our rarest wildlife and plantlife.
In Kielder, for example, they have preserved the largest area of 'blanket bog' in the UK, which will never be planted with trees, and Kielder Forest is home to the largest surviving population of red squirrels in the UK.
So we're confident that all the timber we buy and turn into shavings for horse bedding comes from forests that are sustainable ecologically and environmentally, as well as economically.