What steps has your company already to made to become more environmentally friendly?
Vigilis Tree Shelters are committed to sourcing sustainable materials where possible. It is important to us that our timber products are PEFC and FSC Certified, originating from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
We have also invested heavily in researching and developing our own range of biodegradable Vigilis tree shelters. We have invested over £500k in research and development, laboratory testing over 750 samples for mechanical properties, weathering and biodegradation over a simulated 7-year period. Our commitment to biodegradable tree shelters extends beyond this. We continue to closely monitor over 70 field trials across the UK, taking measurements and monitoring the shelters for strength, flexibility and biodegradation to ensure our products are functioning to the highest standard.
Vigilis Tree Shelters have a fleet of electric vehicles which staff use for site visits, reducing our carbon footprint.
How are your products sustainable? / Are you stocking more sustainable products?
Our Vigilis-Bio biodegradable tree shelters are made from bio-based derivates (potatoes, wood & corn) and a custom biodegradable polymer. No plastics are used in the production process and less carbon is emitted during the manufacturing process. They are soil biodegradable, therefore, they will embrittle, fragment and biodegrade onsite – only water, minerals and biomass will remain after biodegradation. This is the way forward for a sustainable forestry industry and to address the huge plastic pollution issue that we face with polypropylene tree shelters.
Are you implementing any further changes to continue lowering your carbon footprint?
We are committed to lowering our carbon footprint across the whole business, spanning to our online presence. We have built a website with low carbon emissions which is 89% cleaner than other comparable websites
We are phasing out polypropylene tree shelters and we are committed to solely supplying Vigilis-Bio biodegradable tree shelters within the next few years. It is no longer environmentally or socially acceptable for conventional tree shelters to be left in the environment after use as they will end up as microplastics in the soil. Whereas, biodegradable tree shelters will fragment and provide a food source to soil microbes.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge in going greener?
One of the biggest challenges has been transitioning from polypropylene tree shelter production to biodegradable tree shelter production. The whole production process is different, requiring investment in state-of-the-art machinery, focusing on smaller production runs and using custom materials.
Gaining trust within the forestry industry is another challenge: biodegradable tree shelters are relatively new to the market and a wide choice of suppliers have now started manufacturing them from a variety of different materials. However, the efficacy of biodegradable shelters is somewhat debated within the industry. To address this issue, we have undertaken rigorous laboratory tests and field trials to validate performance and benchmark biodegradable tree shelters against their traditional counterparts. Going forwards, industry standards need to be established to instil confidence in the quality of biodegradable products and this is something we are working towards.