The equestrian industry isn’t known for its green credentials.
Horse owners generate vast amounts of waste: feed bags, bedding bags, tired rugs, plastic tubs… all ending up in landfill. Single-use bedding alone contributes to many tons of redundant waste.
Sorbeo has resolved to do better. In a mission to help you ‘Reduce Your Carbon Hoofprint,’ Sorbeo is an eco-friendly horse bedding that is 100 per cent carbon neutral.
Our carbon footprint
Made in south west Scotland, on the edge of the Dumfries and Galloway forest, Sorbeo bedding is manufactured using virgin spruce pine grown within a 60 miles radius. The short distance saves on haulage mileage. To reduce carbon emissions further, some of the felled trees are shipped to the Ayrshire factory by boat. The North Channel sea harbour at Girvan has been re-opened to serve this purpose. Few global wood pellet manufacturers can boast such a small carbon footprint.
With every bag of eco-friendly horse bedding bought, the Sorbeo consumer buys into a unique cycle of sustainability. Every tree Sorbeo harvests is replaced with a forest seedling. Our forests are registered with the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible forest management by setting standards and labeling them as eco-friendly.
The Sorbeo factory runs on its own energy pellets feeding biomass boilers, and all carbon created through manufacture is offset by the trees Sorbeo replants. There are no by-products, and no waste. Every inch of every tree is used. Even the bark that is stripped from the logs is used in the biomass process. It is a uniquely tidy process, with an ultra-low net carbon displacement of over 95%.
Sorbeo’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t finish with the end product. Its entire staff, its support network, supply chain and spending comes from within the same 60-mile Ayrshire radius. The company has well deserved its ‘Proud Supporter’ status within the pristine Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere – one of only four Biospheres in the UK.
Beware cheap imports
Since 2006 the market in wood pellet bedding has grown to 20% – but few fit the eco-friendly horse bedding bill. Cheap imports come largely from Eastern Europe and Russia, countries that lack forestry stewardship. Forests are cut down and not replaced; trees are logged illegally. Imported pellets might be made from compressed sawdust and waste wood (eg, old pallets) which make the finished bed dusty and brittle. Some pellets have glue additives to bind them together as the natural adhesive (lignin) has been destroyed. These pellets are primarily for biomass and the energy market, subject to just 5% VAT – and if sold for equestrian bedding, the supplier (and buyer) are breaking the law.
A word on packaging
Bans on plastic are proliferating across the globe but what should we replace it with? Most life-cycle assessments of different types of bags have come to the same conclusion: when it comes to climate change and other environmental problems, plastic is actually ‘greener’ than paper, which costs a lot more in terms of resources and pollution to produce.
But it’s not about the amount of plastic we use; rather what we do with it once it’s done its job. Plastic is perfect for recycling. The main problem is that the UK government hasn’t issued a UK-wide blanket policy to reach out to all councils across the country.
Currently, no two UK councils have the same rules. Some offer kerbside collections for all plastics while others don’t. Some recycling centres can deal with all types of plastic from bottle, bins, bags and wrap – while some can’t take any.
Sorbeo is packaged using recyclable LDPE04 plastic (Low Density Polythene), while the company is currently trialing ‘paper’ alternatives from Sweden. Until a waterproof paper can be found that isn’t a mix of polymer sandwiched with paper (unrecyclable in the UK), Sorbeo prefers the idea of recycled plastic. This will allow us to keep costs down, while giving us the satisfaction that we’re removing a certain tonnage of plastic from the environment to turn into our new bags.
Ultimately, we want to demonstrate to customers that we are a business which invests in its local community and which is dead serious about sustainability.