Designing and Upcycling Eco-friendly Reclaimed Wood Furniture

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木一番 Woodrite https://www.woodrite.com.hk/

Established in 2013, Woodrite specialises in the upcycling of unwanted and reclaimed wood that would otherwise be discarded in the landfills. By collecting reclaimed wood and collaborating with designers and veteran carpenters, the environmentally-focused social enterprise turns waste wood into functional and locally-designed furniture for sale.

The Challenges
The high levels of construction activity in Hong Kong generate a significant amount of construction waste. A lack of a management strategy to reduce waste generation and maximise reuse/recycling of construction waste meant that in 2017, Hong Kong exported more construction waste to Mainland China than it processed using its own facilities. That includes non-inert construction waste, such as bamboo, plastics, wood, glass, vegetation and organic materials. A major challenge is to devise innovative ways to reuse/recycle these discarded materials in order to minimise waste and ease the pressure on Hong Kong’s landfills.

The Solution
Woodrite focuses on upcycling and refurbishing to reduce waste, by incorporating waste material in new products, and reinforces the principles of a circular economy by collaborating with designers and carpenters to upcycle the collected waste material into new, locally-designed furniture. Woodrite accepts recycled wood from a variety of sources, including donations from charitable organisations and leftover wooden planks from construction work. Each piece of upcycled furniture is designed by in-house designers and is manufactured at a 4,000-sq. ft. carpentry workshop in Hong Kong. The social enterprise also holds practical upcycling workshops to raise awareness and train the general public in upcycling and carpentry skills.

The Impact
Since its inception, the company has saved more than 200 tonnes of wood from the landfills. Woodrite’s product range now includes electric standing desks, premium solid wood dining tables and a dining set combo. In addition to selling upcycled wooden furniture, the company also partners with local businesses to encourage green procurement practices and has provided upcycled furniture for restaurants and offices. For example, in a partnership with the Hysan Group, Woodrite turned wood discarded from a redevelopment project into new smart benches at the Lee Theatre Plaza. Out of over 80 start-ups and social enterprises, Woodrite was awarded the Silver Prize for Growth at the inaugural Business for Social Good conference in 2016.