ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE – It’s in our DNA

Trees with a white background

Where it started: Back in 2011, we noticed a stockpile of waste wood while on holidays in Cordoba, Spain. It turned out to be waste wood from the pruning and replanting from local olive farms. We enquired locally and found out that the local community used a little of it for firewood and cooking as it was fantastic for making a good sustainable fire, with larger pieces used for woodturning enthusiasts.

However, most of the wood just sat there to rot as there was more than they could use. It dawned on us that to utilise this waste wood for fuel in a country where the fuel source is needed made sense. The carbon released from the waste wood is the same if burned for heating or cooking, making it carbon neutral and even more so if saving the use of other fossil fuels. The Green Olive Firewood Company was born, and we started bringing the waste wood into the UK as firewood.

Wood Sustainability: We work from Ridge Farm in West Sussex, offering a wide variety of wood products for cooking and heating. From the company’s beginning, we have kept the same ethics. We process local logs from Surrey and West Sussex from managed woodlands and estates with clear woodland management programmes for replanting and felling. Any woods or wood products we import, such as olive wood, come from authorised and managed farms or woodlands, and we undertake full due diligence in ensuring all the wood we use is from managed and sustainable sources.

BSL, RHI and Ready to Burn: Our fuels are BSL (Biomass Supplier List) authorised since 2016 for use in appliances that qualify for the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive). Our firewood and heat logs are also certified under the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme administered by Woodsure. We also have kiln drying facilities at our farm in West Sussex powered by an industrial wood burning boiler that qualifies for the RHI, and we use our waste woods to power our kiln dryers.

Packaging: How and what we pack our goods is crucial for our future. In 2013 we sold our firewood in wood crates we made that could be burned as firewood also. Unfortunately, the extra cost incurred meant we couldn’t be competitive, meaning sales were not as we had previously hoped. Since then, we have made sure any net bags we use are fully recyclable and made with a percentage of recycled material. We only use paper or cardboard for all our charcoal and fire lighter products and are launching a cardboard wood box this coming season. Our bags can all be sent back to us for recycling, or we may reuse them for packing if possible. Alternatively, you can bring our bags to your local recycling centre to be recycled.

Firestarter’s and Firelighters: All our products are designed and prepared with the environment in mind. The firelighters we offer do not use chemicals and only use vegetable oil or wax mixed with wood biomass.

Charcoal: We now offer West Sussex Charcoal made at our Ridge Farm West Sussex. We use the same local woods we use for our firewood. It is heated and starved of oxygen in a charcoal retort that gives zero emissions, powered by our waste wood at the farm. The charcoal that we import is from managed woodlands. Our professional and restaurant-quality charcoal is from the she-oak tree (the official name of the casuarinas tree). The She-oak tree is one of the fastest-growing dense hardwoods that grow in harsh environments making it perfectly renewable and sustainable for the firewood and charcoal industry. This tree has been identified for active climate protection in Europe and a project has begun in Egypt see https://www.sekem.com/en/egyptian-trees-for-active-climate-protection-in-europe/

Future: We are in the process of working with several companies in assessing the feasibility of utilising a by-product we are producing called Biochar as a source for carbon storage and soil improvement in the agricultural world. One tonne of Biochar saves the release of up to four tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere. We are always looking for ways to continue to improve our carbon footprint in supplying sustainable and renewable fuels, and we will strive to promote sustainable, ethical renewables. We only have one liveable planet. Let’s keep it that way!