The Importance of Social Enterprise Partnerships

Sustainability and the environment are embedded at the heart of all SCAPE Scotland frameworks and, by working collaboratively with our delivery partners we're ensuring the successful delivery of community benefit, social value and local economic growth.

Social enterprises and SMEs are the beating heart of local economic growth. At McLaughlin & Harvey, their passion to create lasting legacies in the communities in which we work is undeniable. In their latest blog below, they talk about how, through their work on the SCAPE Scotland Construction framework, they've been able to engage with Glasgow Wood Recycling on a number of SCAPE Scotland sites, including the Allander Leisure Centre (pictured below). Glasgow Wood Recycling is a charity and social enterprise that collects and reuses waste wood in an environmentally beneficial way based on the principles of the circular economy.

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The first thing that hits you when walking toward the various units occupied by social enterprise Glasgow Wood Recycling is the smell of freshly cut wood. The second thing is the smile on the faces of the numerous people that work and volunteer there.

The organisation, both a charity and social enterprise, began 17 years ago in a tiny 50m² industrial unit in the Drumchapel Community Business Complex. Fast forward to today and they occupy property in Whiteinch, 10 times the size of the property where they first started out, with at least one of the office buildings constructed from wood they collected.

Peter Lavelle is the Chief Executive of Glasgow Wood Recycling. He traded social work for a social enterprise 17 years ago and despite not being a woodworker, he has encouraged many others to learn the skills to be one.

Social Enterprise and the model of Community Wood Recycling just seemed to me a fantastic way to reduce wood waste and create opportunities for people to use their skill and grow and develop.

Peter Lavelle
Chief Executive of Glasgow Wood Recycling

He continues;

"We’ve been at this a long time now and proven this is as a sustainable activity and a great way to support people. We’re delighted that McLaughlin and Harvey feel similar about making a difference and we look forward to a long and positive partnership!”

Glasgow Wood Recycling is part of a network of social enterprises collecting and reusing waste wood in an environmentally beneficial way based on the principles of the circular economy. They have visited several McLaughlin & Harvey sites including our Allander Leisure Centre and ASN School SCAPE Scotland projects.

So, what happened to the wood from these sites?

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When our site teams have collected enough waste wood - pallets, scaffolding boards, cable reels - Glasgow Wood Recycling collect it. The wood is then transported back to the units where it is split into areas depending on its intended use.

For example, “The Pallet Palace” sees pallets stripped apart so that the slats can be sold individually. During this process, no materials are wasted, with scrap wood being used for the wood-burning heater in the workshop and nails being used for scrap.

Once the wood, whatever its type, is prepared, it is then taken to the workshop to be processed, cut and sawn by one of the many volunteers and staff members. But not everyone works in the workshop. Volunteers and staff can choose from a range of jobs including site pick-ups, office work, marketing and sales.

Volunteers and staff come from all walks of life. Whether attracted by the community aspect, the urge to help the environment, or social interaction to tackle loneliness, each has their reasons for joining.

During COVID-19, there was a lot of demand for desks and outdoor bars but the team also receive a lot of requests for bespoke items, with interactions often starting with “Can you make me a…?”

If the item is not bespoke, it gets taken to the on-site shop where there is a range of indoor and outdoor furniture for the public to browse. Also in that space is various odd cuts of reclaimed wood that can be bought by the public and used in their own DIY projects.

Through our engagement with Glasgow Wood, 105.9 tonnes of wood from our sites has been reused or recycled:

  • 62.7 tonnes have been reused
  • 39.3 tonnes have been recycled
  • 3.9 tonnes have been used for firewood at the workshop

This equates to 53 tonnes of CO2e saved.

By saving wood that was destined for landfill, we are supporting jobs and training in our local community and promoting the circular economy and the principles of reuse.

As a company, we have embedded sustainability and the environment within all aspects of our business, striving to maintain our positive impact environmentally, socially and economically."

Monika Wojda
Group Environmental Manager at McLaughlin & Harvey

Monika continues;

"In 2022 we launched our Net Zero Action Plan, outlining our aspirations and our balanced strategy to achieve landmark milestones throughout the next decade. We have implemented several initiatives to address energy use and carbon emissions, waste and materials management, water consumption, biodiversity and sustainable procurement.

Engagement with Glasgow Wood Recycling was one of the steps we undertook to introduce circular economy into the business and it is a step which we are willing to take even further.”

As well as the environmental benefits to our business, engaging with Glasgow Wood Recycling also aligns with McLaughlin & Harvey’s social value pillars. Social value is the added value McLaughlin & Harvey creates for society through our business operations to improve the environment, economy and social well-being.”

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Our engagement with Glasgow Wood Recycling aligns with two of our pillars. First is Shared Prosperity, a value that ensures we support local economies by buying goods and services locally and ethically through a diverse supply chain that includes new businesses, start-ups, small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSE).

The second pillar is Sustainably Green, a value that sees us embracing digital technology and modern methods of construction to design out waste, increase resource efficiency, improve the environmental health of the communities as we work towards our Net Zero Strategy.

To find out more about the incredible work of Glasgow Wood Recycling or to order a bar or desk for yourself, visit their website here.

Written by:

McLaughlin & Harvey