Ashwells Managing Director Janine Davies-Tutt and Operations & Marketing Director Deb Davies-Tutt join Catherine Barratt in The Green Room to discuss the many and diverse advantages of timber reclamation and re-use.
Ashwells Managing Director Janine Davies-Tutt and Operations & Marketing Director Deb Davies-Tutt were recently invited to participate in the penultimate episode of The Green Room’s highly regarded #Decarbonised podcast series. The discussion centred around the significance of reusing materials within the built environment, and how hardwood reclamation is key to saving the world’s trees.
As the UK’s leading tropical timber reclamation specialists, the concept of ‘reclaim and re-use’ underpins Ashwell’s entire business model. Janine and Deb used the podcast platform to educate listeners about the durability and versatility of tropical hardwood timber, and how choosing it for a project helps to save – not squander – the rainforest.
Deb pointed out that around 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been felled in the past 50 years – and that 46% of the world’s trees have already been lost. “We have to re-think [how we source materials],” she stated, explaining how using and re-using reclaimed tropical timber reduces the amount of virgin material needed. “We have so much tropical hardwood [in the UK] already, which was shipped here during colonial times,” Deb told Decarbonised listeners. “We intercept it and bring it in to be FSC-certified, and then send it back out to work. This protects what’s left of the rainforest, and negates the need for shipping yet more timber from thousands of miles away: two massive carbon footprint contributors.”
Janine and Deb also used the podcast to showcase the durability of reclaimed tropical timber, explaining that reclaimed timber is as durable as freshly sawn, with a lifespan of at least 25 years (versus 15 for oak). “Reclaimed tropical timber is heavier and harder to work with,” acknowledged Janine. “But the payback is longevity.”
That longevity can be harnessed for a huge range of different projects and purposes, from seating to sculpture to sea defences. The different timbers handled by Ashwells incorporate a variety of qualities and even colours. Greenheart, for example, is known for being one of the strongest and most durable timbers in the world. As its name suggests, Purpleheart turns a stunning shade of purple when exposed to UV light, making it a sought-after statement piece for projects with a strong aesthetic appeal.
Both Janine and Deb used the podcast to explain how much work – and therefore time – is involved in reclaiming and preparing tropical timber for re-use. De-metalling is a big part of the process, as is cutting to size. They also explained how reclaimed tropical timber can be re-used time and time again, highlighting its extensive circularity of use.
Looking ahead, working with other champions of the circular economy is a key objective of Ashwells. While this approach requires time and plenty of upfront planning, the podcast concluded on a positive note, with Deb praising the “remarkable” shift and attitude change towards sustainability that’s taken place within the past five years.
Click here to listen to the full episode of The Green Room’s Reclaiming Hardwood #Decarbonised podcast, featuring the Ashwells management team
About Ashwells Reclaimed Timber
Ashwells Reclaimed Timber is a tropical reclamation specialist based in Bulphan, Essex. We reclaim and repurpose FSC certified tropical timber and temperate British hardwoods. From our timber mill we supply reclaimed hard and softwoods to be repurposed into bespoke pieces, from garden planters and seating to street furniture and sea defences. We’re also proud to collaborate with award–winning landscape designers, architects and civil engineers, and our reclaimed tropical timber can be seen in major projects across the UK, including hotel and restaurant chains, the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court, The Eden Project and London Zoo.