Do we cut down trees for our wooden coffee capsules?

Our rezemo coffee capsule is made of wood - however, we do not cut down trees for this, but use residual products such as wood chips. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 83 million m³ of wood was extracted from German forests in 2021. Nevertheless, this renewable raw material is limited and should therefore be used and recycled efficiently. In this blog post, you can find out how important it is to dispose of wood waste correctly and what you can do with wood chips.

Sawdust is produced during wood processing

Not all waste is created equal

Wood waste can be used wood, but also wood residues that result from processing in the wood industry. As a consumer, you usually dispose of your wood waste at the recycling centre or have old wooden furniture collected from bulky waste, for example. In contrast, wood-processing companies can decide what they want to do with their waste wood. Either the waste wood becomes a pure waste product or a by-product that can be reused or sold within the company (more on this later).

What becomes of the waste products is regulated in Germany by the so-called Waste Wood Ordinance. First, the waste wood is sorted into four categories according to its quality in order to make the recycling process as efficient as possible. Category 1, for example, is untreated or natural waste wood and category 4 is hazardous waste wood, which is disposed of separately because of the wood preservatives. Incidentally, the annual amount of waste wood was about 11 million tonnes in 2010, of which about 10 % belonged to category 4. The sorted wood is then cut up and can now either be recycled into chipboard or used for energy recovery (heat generation).

Wood chips for animal husbandry

Are sawdust waste?

As the name suggests, sawdust is produced during processing with a saw, e.g. in sawmills or other operations. In contrast, wood shavings are produced when wood is planed with a planing knife or plane iron. Both "wastes" can be wonderfully reused and can therefore also be referred to as residues or by-products. They are primarily suitable for the production of chipboard or wood pellets, but can also be used as natural insulation material in the insulation of houses.

Wood shavings are also a multifunctional product for consumers: For example, sawdust can be perfectly used in the garden, as it keeps snails away from cultivated fruit and vegetables. Due to the absorbency of wood shavings, they are often used as bedding in small animal husbandry or for soaking up spilled liquids.

In the wood industry itself, the chips are usually pressed into so-called briquettes, as the chips can be stored better this way and leave less dust. This happens especially when the particles are very small.

Sawdust and wood shavings are therefore a valuable by-product that should definitely continue to be used. Dirk Teefelbekkers, Managing Director of PEFC Deutschland e.V., comments on this:

"Sustainable forest management has a lot to do with resource efficiency. This also means that the wood chips produced during sawing and planing are still put to good use. These are not waste, but the starting point for important wood products such as chipboard or wood pellets.

Wood is burnt in the fireplace

Why burning wood is not the solution

As a final measure, wood residues and sawdust also serve to supply heat energy. During combustion, wood releases CO2 but only the amount it bound during growth. Although the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) classifies wood as a sustainable energy source and 1.1 million households already heat with wood, the burning of wood contributes to air pollution through fine dust particles. This can only be avoided if the wood is sufficiently dried or if modern wood-burning stoves or wood-burning plants filter out the harmful substances. Furthermore, one should always pay attention to the origin of the wood, as the ecological balance of imported wood with long transport routes is significantly worse than the CO2-footprint of domestic wood.

Whether wood as a fuel is the solution for the future is debatable. However, the life cycle of wood should be as long as possible before it is used for combustion.

Production of the rezemo capsule

rezemo - the coffee capsule made from former wood chips

We at rezemo also use wood chips for the production of the wooden coffee capsule. Since 2016, we have been working with a supplier who sources wood from sawmills in the Swabian Alb region. In addition, we use the wood fibres in untreated form for further processing, i.e. without chemical treatment.

Wood as a renewable raw material offers immense advantages over conventional plastic or aluminium. On the one hand, the wood grows in the same form in which it is later processed, without first having to be industrially prepared.. Moreover, it grows again and again, whereas fossil resources are finite. During the lifetime of a tree, wood even binds CO2 and is only released again when it is burnt.

It is important that the wood comes from controlled cultivation. That is why we only use PEFC-certified wood.which ensures that ecological standards are met and that the wood is grown in a way that conserves resources. Unfortunately, many forests are still overexploited and not managed in a forward-looking way. With PEFC or FSC certificates, you as a consumer can also determine whether the wood you are buying comes from harmless cultivation conditions.

Have you always wondered what a wooden coffee capsule feels like? Then go ahead, browse our shop and enjoy sustainable coffee from the rezemo wooden coffee capsule.