by Greta Yeoman
Waste wood is being turned into charcoal in Timaru, offering an alternative home-heating source, its creator says.
Waste Transformation Ltd chief executive Mike Henare said the process involved removing all the oxygen from the air so the scrap wood would turn into charcoal but would not burn up.
He said the process had been developed at the Redruth Resource Recovery Park over several years. Timaru was the pilot plant for a scheme he hoped would expand around the country.
The plant was using untreated wood from building sites and demolition projects. Treated wood could be burned but needed to be “properly managed”.
He said customers were told not to use it for cooking, such as on barbecues, but to use it solely for heating, because it was still waste wood.
He estimated that a tonne of waste timber produced about 400kg of charcoal.
Crow’s Nest shop manager Darren Edwards said the shop, which sources good-quality items through the neighbouring Redruth Resource Recovery Park, had been selling the charcoal for a couple of months. While it had taken a while to take off, it was now selling well.
Because it was clean-burning and light it was a quite popular alternative to firewood, which often became scarcer at this time of year, Mr Edwards said.
An Environment Canterbury spokeswoman said the organisation was “always open” to new technology that could help it to reach its aims of improving air quality in Canterbury.
“We are following this pilot project with interest.”