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Manufacturer’s Green Program Produces Zero Waste

Here’s a question to test your knowledge of green businesses in South Simcoe: Which national manufacturer produces a very high volume of products without discarding anything as waste from its operations?

Hints: This long-established, family-run business based in Bradford West Gwillimbury has suppliers in several countries and has recently expanded to Calgary.

Got the answer? It’s Royal Woodworking. The 35-year-old company operated by the Gerrits family manufactures solid wood mouldings that are shipped across Canada from its 70,000-square-foot plant in the Town of Bradford.

That plant is a busy place. Its 55 employees produce 400,000 linear feet of mouldings a week. But despite all the cutting, trimming and shaving of products, and the discarded steel straps that are cut away from the pallets of supplied raw lumber, not a scrap leaves the plant as waste.

Royal Woodworking has a strategy called Zero Waste, which ensures that all discarded materials are recycled or reused. All wood shavings, for example, are sold to King Cole Ducks of the nearby Town of Aurora and used as bedding for the birds. Small wood scraps are put through a wood grinder – it’s called a “hog” – and added to the bags of shavings, as are any cardboard pieces not used as packaging.

The company pays a recycling firm, Paper Savers of the Town of Markham, to pick up its remaining paper waste, shred it and recycle it. The steel straps are given away for recycling to a local auto-wrecking company, Landel and Sons. Wood scraps of any substantial size are sold as kindling at Royal Woodworking’s store in Aurora and at local campgrounds. There are no chemicals in the wood and they are all solid, kiln-dried pieces that burn easily, says Donna Gerrits, the company’s co-owner. “We have been doing this for years,” she says. “We don’t think about the cost or the trouble, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Employees are committed to green practices to the point where they take turns bringing home any personal garbage produced throughout the plant, so they can discard it through Bradford West Gwillimbury’s household recycling program.

Royal Woodworking, though it manufactures traditional products, uses modern operating methods and standards. Production schedules are controlled on computers, not paper, as are inventory and distribution processes. That includes the new Calgary distribution facility, which opened in September in a 30,000-square-foot warehouse.

In its latest initiative, Royal Woodworking is applying for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It hopes to achieve the certification, which promotes good forest management, by March. “FSC is an international certification and labelling system that guarantees that the forest products we purchase in Canada, the US and other countries come from responsibly managed forests and verified recycled sources,” Gerrits says. “More and more people want to buy green, and one way to do that is to buy FSC certified products. The whole idea is to make sure that our forests remain healthy.”