A shrill noise rings out, sawdust flies away. In this small workshop in Faverges-Seythenex (Haute-Savoie), at the foot of the mountains, Éric delicately lowers his saw to cut, piece by piece, a batch of long wooden planks. These railings were recovered from a building in Annecy that was being renovated, and are about to start a new life: they will be used to make a planter for Séverine. “I need to tinker, but I don’t want to break the bank or overconsume,” explains the customer who observes the carpenter’s work with a smile. What is happening here is quite unexpected: I am offered recycled wood, both local and inexpensive. »
It was through word of mouth that the 45-year-old teacher, based in the neighboring village, discovered the concept of Bois’cyclerie: this association harvests unused wood from individuals and professionals, to store it. and valorize it before reselling it at a lower cost, all within a radius of less than 50 kilometers.
At the origin of this new local and circular economy circuit, “a major waste” observed by Sébastien, who worked for ten years in the construction industry: “Wood represents 70% of waste in the sector, which is often abandoned or burned… and we must add everything that is sleeping in private homes. »
During this season, 30 tonnes of wood saved by Bois’cyclerie
However, the market operates in a tight flow: for several years, the material has experienced strong variations in supply and significant price increases: + 50% in one year for oak, + 41% for fir-spruce, + 26 % for maritime pine, + 23% for Scots pine, etc.* The solution imagined by this 50-year-old Haut-Savoyard, accompanied by craftsmen and architects, hit the mark: in a year and a half, Bois’cyclerie has attracted 200 members, including active volunteers or simple supporters, but also residents who regularly donate and buy. During the last season, 30 tonnes of wood were saved, 10 tonnes resold.
Faced with these countless piles of boards, battens, window frames and cupboard doors, Luc can’t help but joke. “We wouldn’t say it like that, but we don’t accept everything: before recovering the wood, we ask for a photo that our specialists analyze to ensure that it is worth it,” specifies this 60-year-old professor who co-chairs the ‘association. The volunteers, including a good number of retired craftsmen and a few enlightened amateurs, then take turns, every Wednesday, to “revalue” the wood.
The association, which is based in the premises of a medical-educational center managed by the OVE foundation, also involves young people with intellectual disabilities. Jean-Philippe, 30 years old, is very motivated. “I love everything: cleaning, sanding, cutting… Maybe I’ll make it my job!” » says the young man who doesn’t miss a bit of the kind advice from Eric, who recently retired. “This is the perfect opportunity to continue to feel useful to society! » Sold at 2 euros per kilo – with some exceptions – this reclaimed wood is most often used to make cabins, furniture or decoration. This afternoon, for example, Brice and his family left with an old cabinet door “which would make a large, original photo frame.”
More and more orders for Bois’cyclerie
La Bois’cyclerie also receives a visit from a local cabinetmaker looking for rare species to recycle, “but few professionals get their supplies here, at the moment, because they need identical batches and in large quantities”, specifies Luc. At the same time, the structure is honoring more and more orders: a few weeks ago, old shutters were transformed into picnic tables for the Rural Family House in Annecy-le-Vieux.
“To meet growing demand, we need to solidify our economic model,” explains the association, which is seeking to establish new partnerships and sponsorships, and is beginning to diversify its activity. On Saturdays, paid workshops allow the general public to learn how to make small objects. On their site, which should soon expand, premises could be offered to independent artisans in exchange for a few hours of volunteering. Notice to DIYers in the region.
* Price for shaped wood, according to the ONF 2022-2023.
What are the recipes for Bois’cyclerie’s success?
- A territory of choice. The initiative is being deployed in the region where the rate of wooden construction is the highest in France, in the heart of the Alps where chalet culture still reigns.
- Weight support. The association benefits from various subsidies, including a particularly important one from Ademe, specially intended for “material libraries” which encourage reuse.
- A boost for the sector. The place promotes woodworking trades, which are lacking in labor: it introduces them to young people and welcomes volunteers in retraining, while allowing retired craftsmen to pass on their know-how.