Are you interested in Setting Up a Sustainable Firewood Business?
ZNET has been investigating the suitability of sawmill off-cuts as a sustainable source of firewood, looking at wood quality, logistics and price. The goal was to determine the viability of establishing a local firewood business to deliver this wood to Uralla homes. Waste wood from sawmills is classed as sustainable as it is harvested under a forestry management permit.
Last year ZNET tested a load of mill off-cuts from Bendemeer sawmill. We had approximately 40 cubic meters delivered by commercial transport in May 2019, and four households used the wood to evaluate its performance. These were the findings:
- The offcuts were well seasoned testing at 12% moisture with a density of 0.32 per cubic metre. They burnt well. The offcuts of mixed hardwood had been built up over the previous 12 months of mill operation.
- There was a reasonable distribution of sizes ranging from small off-cuts, good to use as kindling through to larger pieces about 6 x 10 x 30 cm long. There were few large pieces that would help see a fire burn right through the night.
- The wood was easy to handle for people who are frail or elderly, or people who find it difficult to carry heavy pieces of wood.
- The price of the wood (now $50+GST ex-mill) gives the opportunity for a reasonable margin for a firewood business to operate. ZNET paid about $40/tonne for transport from Bendemeer but this price could be substantially reduced with some astute negotiation.
Some of the people who used the wood said:
“The pieces vary in size and the small bits were really good for kindling when you are regularly lighting a fire (May and Sept when a fire is not needed all the time). We mixed them with our normal supply so had good rapid burning pieces along with large blocks to keep the fire going overnight.”
“Best wood I have ever had since moving here in 15 years for my purpose. I have a small firebox and small door and it is already chopped up to the right size. There are three different sizes, one for starting, one to get it hot and larger pieces to maintain over a longer period. Very dry and easy to light and burns well. Easy to stack and carry as not too heavy and even sizes. Easy for storage inside as doesn’t drop a lot of mess.”
“I have an Agar in the kitchen with a small door and box. I have arthritis in my shoulders and husband unable to cut wood due to ill health so finds easy to carry, store and variety of sizes for different needs. No need for extra cutting and stacks well. Burns nice and hot and doesn’t take long to heat up. Good for cooking.”
ZNET is looking to support a local person to set up a business to distribute this source of sustainable firewood. You would need a storage yard and a ute to deliver. If that is you – please get in touch to discuss (contact Trish on 0411 804 627 or email projects(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)zneturalla.org.au).