Similar to other wastes, wood can be expensive to manage and dispose of through the traditional waste channels. thyssenkrupp Materials UK, a global materials supplier and supply chain solutions provider, has approached numerous recyclers and other potential outlets for the sustainable disposal of its timber packaging in Northern Ireland but without any success. The company was also unwilling to send the wood waste to landfill, as the team believed that the timber packaging had a value and could be utilised better, at less cost. As it turns out, yes, it can be used and at zero cost! Therefore, thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland started to work with local community groups that provide valuable support services throughout the local area of Belfast.
It all started with an informal conversation with a local primary school parent, who was telling the company how school budgets were not sufficient to support the needs of the children. When the thyssenkrupp team enquired about what sort of things were the kids being deprived of, they came up with an innovative, sustainable solution. The only challenge ahead remained the labour cost to implement the project.
This is where the school caretaker suggested thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland contact the local ‘Loughries Men’s Sheds’. The caretaker also introduced the business to the Principal of Castle Gardens Primary School, who had a shopping list of needs that could not be funded under normal circumstances.
What is Men’s Sheds?
Men’s Sheds are community spaces for men to connect, converse and create. The activities are often similar to those of garden sheds but for groups of men to enjoy together. They help reduce loneliness and isolation, but mainly they are fun. www.menssheds.org.uk
When the local Men’s Sheds heard what was required at the school and that timber was available at thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland, it was time to start working together on creating a sustainable, supportive community project.
The Principal needed picnic tables and planting areas for the schoolchildren. The picnic tables provided seating areas for the children to congregate during breaks and for outside teaching when the weather is nice. The planting area was for the children to get their hands dirty and learn about the environment and sustainability.
This project aligned perfectly with the vision thyssenkrupp Materials UK has on sustainability as the company committed to carbon neutrality by 2030 and introduced the beyond clean, beyond green and beyond good model as part of the wider international group – thyssenkrupp Materials Services. Further to the school project, the company has also supplied the Men’s Sheds with additional materials for ongoing use, as the charity continues providing a much-needed space for those in need.
On another project at the Men’s Sheds allotment, thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland has provided waste timber that has been re-purposed into plant dividers, raised planting areas, fencing and even a greenhouse, transforming waste into wonderful.
The Men’s Sheds are generally self-funded, and thyssenkrupp Materials UK is happy to support where they can with materials and expertise, which is what the business does daily as a metal supplier of aluminium, steel and titanium. This also provides cost savings by not disposing of the wood waste but using it to support the local community.
Through these initial collaborations, thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland has been approached by two other local Men’s Sheds, who are doing similar work in their surrounding communities.
On another positive note, the company’s yard is clear of all unwanted wood and pallets, and they have a very appreciative and worthwhile outlet for the future. thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Northern Ireland has provided a sustainable and economical solution for wooden waste, whilst supporting the local community.