Norfolk firm’s fight to establish green forestry products
PUBLISHED: 09:30 10 June 2015 | UPDATED: 09:30 10 June 2015
The founder of a company which sells biodegradable products for the forestry industry has said that not everyone wants to change the root of their problems with the environment.
William Coulet, an environmental consultant who set up online store Brilliant Little Planet in 2014, has developed biodegradable tree spirals and mulch mats for the forestry, agriculture and landscaping sectors - yet said many companies were sticking with oil-based ones.
The designs, which are made of potato, corn starch, hemp and jute, act as a kind of “plastic” which break down into the soil after four years.
“Our products work in a ‘circular economy’, meaning they come from the ground and can be assimilated back into nature,” said Mr Coulet. “Oil is very cheap and our products are slightly more expensive - but importantly they are totally sustainable.”
Yet the environmental consultant, who also works at Exo Environmental in Fakenham, said gaining business across the UK for the £14,000 turnover online store had been an uphill struggle.
Mr Coulet said some organisations which planted trees and grew plants had turned down Brilliant Little Planet’s tree spirals and other products - while the reasons for this were unclear, the use of plastic spirals should not be encouraged, he said.
“It’s contradictory. If you throw crisp packets out of the car window, it’s illegal. But companies are allowed to use tree spirals made of plastic that will stay there for 500 years,” said Mr Coulet. “There is a real lack of support for these kinds of products not only from government and other kinds of organisations.”
A spokesman for one leading conservation charity, The Woodland Trust, said it sent out volunteers to collect discarded tree spirals to be re-used, and were under obligation to use biodegradable materials anyway. However, the definition of biodegradable was not absolutely clear.
“As a conservation charity, The Trust always sources local biodegradable tree guard products where possible, which is a standard industry practice,” he said. “Each of our woodland creation sites sources their suppliers on an individual basis to suit the needs of that site, whether it be tree guards or deer fencing. Where possible, the Trust also reuses tree guards.’
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