Following a competitive tendering process, WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) has chosen five organisations to take part in a series of trials designed to demonstrate the performance and commercial benefits of using recycled wood products (RWPs) in a variety of landscaping applications.
The trials aim to increase awareness of the benefits of recycled woodchip as a mulch or as a surfacing material for pathways and playgrounds and build confidence with potential users. They will also allow WRAP to gather further evidence of the material's key performance properties which are: low maintenance/weed suppression, slope stability, resistance to wind drift and accessibility for wheelchairs/pushchairs.
The trials, which will use around 500 tonnes of recycled woodchip, will be monitored by independent specialists and WRAP will provide technical advice and support throughout.
The chosen trial projects are:
o Cornwall County Council - surfacing material for two bridleway/footpath/cycle routes. Trial will test performance of different depths, ability to slow down traffic, slope stability and will compare performance and commercial benefits with virgin woodchip. Total amount of RWPs to be used is around 43 tonnes.
o Rugby Borough Council - surfacing for footpaths and cycleways through a large open space near housing as part of a community partnership called the Bluebell project. RWPs will be compared with self-generated tree chippings. Total amount of RWPs to be used is 105 tonnes.
o Redditch Borough Council - surfacing for footpaths and will also use 50 reclaimed oak posts and a reclaimed wood knee rail as part of an open space regeneration project called Oakenshaw Spinney. Total amount of RWPs to be used is 80 tonnes.
o Adas/Tal Goed Nurseries - mulch on a four-acre sites used for Christmas tree planting and soft fruit trees. Trial will demonstrate use of colour, slope stability and weed suppression. It will also compare performance with other loose surfacing materials. Total amount of RWPs to be used is 200 tonnes.
o Giffords and Persimmon Homes - surfacing material and mulch to be used at a range of show homes in the West Midlands for Persimmon Homes, the UK's largest house builder. It will demonstrate use of colour, slope stability and weed suppression. Total amount of RWPs to be used is 100 tonnes.
Stephen Beasley, Rugby Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Manager, said: "We have a history of using recycled materials in our landscaping work and we will use this trial of recycled woodchip as a key element in the process of developing a blueprint for sustainable landscape management in the borough. If the product is a success we will be able to increase the use of our own tree chippings for soil improvement instead of as a surfacing material."
Julia Turner, Material Development Manager for wood at WRAP, said: "We received a high level of interest from organisations looking to take part in our formal demonstration trials of recycled woodchip for landscaping. This shows that demand and understanding of recycled woodchip's use as a mulch, pathway covering and playground surface has grown considerably.
"In the last few years more organisations have started to use the material and an increasing number of suppliers are entering the market. Nevertheless, we need to build on this and demonstrate how the product can be used as an effective and versatile solution in a variety of landscaping applications. These five trials will play an important role in achieving that."