by Cheryl Knorr.
Salvo was initiated to reduce the amount of salvageable material that goes to landfill. In association with its online marketplace Salvoweb, the company recently launched an authentication label, Truly Reclaimed. The label assures that materials conform to the Salvo Code and are genuinely reclaimed, reused, recycled or antique.
In preparation for writing this post I listened to a podcast featuring Bonnie Wright, ambassador for Greenpeace and advocate for climate justice, who recently wrote a book called ‘Go Gently’.
Bonnie spoke about the choices we face – how to be more resourceful and how to discover the provenance behind what we buy and eat.
The book is a lifestyle guide urging us to celebrate imperfection, to consider how single-use plastics affect our environment; how waste is a thing rather than an action; to repair, when possible, rather than replace. To think about collective vs individual action.
Bonnie advised that we need to be aware of greenwashing, which is described as, ‘a form of advertising and green marketing deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly’.
This is the mantra of Salvo’s new certification. Truly Reclaimed ensures that a product is genuinely antique or reclaimed rather than just resembling the old and highlights the benefit of choosing reclaimed materials for reuse.
Salvo premiered a short video at London’s Circular Economy Week to explain the need for the certification. Through the lens of one Truly Reclaimed flooring supplier, the video demonstrates the potential and shows the ethical dimensions and social and economic impact of true reclamation and reuse. Watch the video here.
Reuse in the construction industry has been declining. Only 1% of products are reclaimed or reused in construction; when sites are stripped, building materials are demolished. Here’s where we can make change.
The Truly Reclaimed wood reused at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf alone saved carbon emissions equivalent to the making of *25,000 standard plastic carrier bags. The mahogany, supplied by The Architectural Forum, was previously a gymnasium floor.
Truly Reclaimed is the brainchild of Salvo and is affiliated with the longstanding Salvo Code, which is a world-leading assurance in the architectural salvage and reclamation industry.
Salvo’s marketplace, SalvoWEB.com, was established in the 90s to reduce the amount of salvageable material that is downcycled or goes to landfill. Since then, Salvo has created a movement around this mission with events like the Salvo Fair and publications on the benefits of reuse.
The Truly Reclaimed label guarantees that what you buy is genuinely reclaimed and will lower your carbon footprint having a positive impact on sustainability goals.
We asked Sara Morel, CEO at Salvo, for answers to some of our questions about Salvo and Truly Reclaimed.
How does Salvo authenticate materials?
Salvo regulates the certification, governs the rules and supports suppliers to record a material’s chain of custody and authenticate that it is genuinely reclaimed.
Truly Reclaimed certification is open to members of the Salvo Code, a peer-reviewed community of businesses that meet high standards in responsible sourcing. The Salvo Code applies to a business. Truly Reclaimed applies to an item for deeper transparency and assurance.
Which types of products are eligible for the Truly Reclaimed moniker?
Truly Reclaimed items range from large architectural antiques to salvaged fireplaces, quarry tiles and lighting. For the certification, the term reclaimed means antique, salvaged, or secondhand. In essence, the products will have had a past life and reuse will allow them to have a future life.
What advice can you pass on to those who would like to source reclaimed materials for a building project?
Think outside the box.
– Specify what is available
– Make a virtue out of the use of non-matching sets
– Leave evidence of a past life
– Use Truly Reclaimed materials
Why should the building sector focus on reusing materials?
Reclamation and reuse save carbon. Construction emits around 40% of the world’s emissions. Molecules of carbon from the 1750s have still not been sequestered: it takes a very long time – reuse helps all this. In the UK alone we manufacture over 2 billion bricks a year and destroy about the same number in demolition. For example, 12 bricks embody the energy of a gallon of petrol, so we should be dismantling and reclaiming as much as possible rather than destroying.
Is it more costly to build using Truly Reclaimed materials?
Designing and building with Truly Reclaimed materials does not have to be more costly. Clever design protects resources and reuse can also save money.
You might decide to specify one Truly Reclaimed material, or you might have a commercial space where you want to use everything the label has to offer. Your client might want to share the past stories of the materials and have the environmental benefit of the design decisions in, for example, a restaurant or a hotel indicated through beautifully engraved TR tags. There is a way to be involved with the campaign for authentic Truly Reclaimed materials for every budget.
Why is sustainability a goal for the planet?
Sustainability is crucial and connects every country and everyone on this planet. No region is exempt from the climate crisis, although we hold a greater duty to act for countries that are suffering the impact the fastest.
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*The reuse of 5.1m2 Truly Reclaimed mahogany woodstrip = a saving of 250kgCO2e
= 25,000 standard disposable plastic carrier bags**
= 1m2 of an average new modern office building (https://carbonleadershipforum.org/member-impact-february-2020/)
= 1-hectare sequestration of average UK farmland (https://soilcapital.com/ufaq/4-4-how-much-can-i-expect-to-earn/)
= 1,000 large cappuccinos**
**The figures above can be compared to examples extracted from Professor Mike Berners-Lee book How Bad Are Bananas – The Carbon Footprint of Everything