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Every year, Islay sends 60 tonnes of waste wood to the mainland for processing and incineration. This valuable commodity is lost to the community. The carbon footprint for transport and disposal is also substantial.


Several distilleries that mature cask spirit on Islay also send away 500-1,000 casks annually, to be broken up and shredded or turned into garden planters. Transport costs for the local authority and the distilleries are significant, and the cargo takes up room on the ferries. However, there’s an opportunity for Islay to create greater sustainability.



We’ve created an initiative to focus on several aspects of wood recycling:


  • Giving staff the skills to work confidently with waste wood


  • Helping distilleries be more sustainable and see their waste as a useful resource


  • Relieving local fuel poverty by offering scrap wood at greatly reduced rates


  • Repairing and upcycling furniture that would otherwise have been broken up


  • Producing bespoke items for sale in our shops and online


  • Trialling woodchip waste as alternative sheep bedding


This approach will generate income. By working with specialist wood recycling organisations we can expand the project to take in other social aims –for example ‘Men Shed’ that would tackle social isolation in retired men.


By running workshops we can also help the Islay community come together by making re-use and upcycling the norm. We hope to run intergenerational skill-transfer days among Shedders and our schools.




This project is funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and will deliver a major carbon saving that will continue after funding ends.


The income-generation potential is significant, especially when we develop an online shop. The whisky industry has a global following and bespoke items made from a favourite single malt will appeal to a wide audience.




So far, we have support and supply from Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain and Laphroaig Distilleries and Argyll and Bute Council.





This project employs two FTE staff.Funds raised will allow us to employ the project workers long-term.

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