Azwood began in the 1970s with a vision in mind: To create a genuine low-emission circular economy, through the utilisation of forestry residues and the diversion of wood residues from landfill. Forty years on, that vision still guides this family owned and operated business, solving today’s big challenges in new innovative ways.
Managing director Brook Brewerton says Azwood’s latest rebranding and business amalgamation is a testament to the company’s dedication to evolving with the times while maintaining their core values.
“We joined the Wholesale Landscapes business and the Azwood Energy business together to create the one brand – Azwood,” says Brewerton.
Azwood began repurposing wood waste and timber residue in the 1980s, then a function of Wholesale Landscapes. Then came the wood energy division in 2003.
Within Azwood’s mission to enhance the environment by harnessing natural residues lies a genuine concern for wastefulness.
“This concern was awakened when our founder was confronted with the sight of discarded wood waste destined for landfills,” Brewerton says.
“After witnessing countless dumpsites filled with sawdust and wood waste, he had a brilliant idea. What if he could divert these wood residues from the landfill?
“Slowly, but surely this vision has materialised, with Azwood repurposing forestry residues and other industry waste to embody the principles of a true circular economy,” says Brewerton.
Azwood uses wood residues and organic waste to manufacture natural products. Their environmental clean-up keeps waterways safe, reduces landfill waste, and helps mitigate the risks associated with climate change.
The business also partners with other local industries to repurpose natural waste, such as sawdust and shavings from sawmills, manures, fungi, trade waste by-products, and green waste.
“We believe in being resourceful and making the most of what we’ve been given. Positively impacting the environment, keeping waterways clean, and stopping wood residues from littering the environment,” says Brewerton.
Azwood offers commercial wood fuels, post-harvest clean-up services, and landscaping supplies such as barks, mulches, soils, and water management – to name a few.
Wood residues make up a combination of untreated raw wood materials such as bark, wood shavings, and other wood debris.
The bark product can be processed into landscaping barks, compost for growers, biofiltration for wastewater treatment and odour control, bioretention for a natural rain garden. All these natural products put positive carbon back into the ground for sustainable growth and help the reduction of the use of synthetic products and fertilisers, Brewerton says.
Sawdust and shavings from mills are used to manufacture wood energy pellet fuel which is used commercially for high-energy output requirements and domestically for heating homes in pellet fires across New Zealand.
Untreated quality logs and wood residues from the forestry and construction industries are used to manufacture high-quality wood chip fuel for industrial commercial energy output.
The forestry services division is a new offering, based around work Azwood has done incognito for the past twenty years.
“We’ve formalised that and broadened that into a service offering for post-harvest clean-up. In the past twelve months, especially since the August 2022 floods here in Nelson, there’s actually been significant demand here for us as contractors.
“That’s where people would pay for our team to go into the forestry where there’s residue at risk and to remove as much as we can and repurpose as much as we can.
“Then we’d often take our grinding machinery and equipment and process that on-site to reduce piece sizes, and use our horticultural knowledge and methodology to improve soil health or improve other environmental outcomes in the area.”
This was the case in August 2022, following the flooding of the Maitai River in Nelson. An Azwood team was sent for three months to clear debris out of the river and remove timber out of the area. The debris was processed using specialised equipment, and mulch was laid along the side of the river to help re-establish new plantations.
Azwood services several industries including dairy, education, and horticulture (including orchards, vineyards, and hops). The company has grown stronger in the last few years, says Brewerton.
“We’re on a strong trajectory of significant double-digit growth.”
His advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs is simple: “Have a vision, solve a problem, and have some capital.”
By Mina Amso in partnership with Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA).