The Lifeboat in Greymouth is about so much more than coffee …
Below is a case study from a New Zealand Social Enterprise. To learn more about Wilding & Co., visit their website.
Who are Wilding & Co.?
Wilding pines are introduced pine trees that grow ‘wild’ and uncontrolled in New Zealand. Wilding & Co contain invasive wilding pines through the production of beautiful household products like handcrafted, organic, shelf-stable fragrances, soaps, and cleaning products. By making use of resources otherwise wasted, they offer a common sense alternative to reduce further negative impact.
Their wildcrafted Fir oil is distilled in Queenstown, deep in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Made by hand, these products are infused with fragrant oils sourced from these wildings.
This original approach offers a positive, self funding ‘eco-logical’ model for managing our most valuable environments.
What Problem Are They Trying to Solve?
Pines grow up to 20 times faster here in New Zealand than they do in their native North America, and are suffocating over 1.4 million hectares of our public and private land. Pines are a serious environmental pest and are costing many millions of taxpayer dollars every year to control. The toxic spray used to control them is itself a hazard, and we need a smarter solution.
How Does Their Model Work?
Michael Sly and Matt Molgat from Queenstown turned that problem on its head and came up with an idea to create value from these pine pests by turning them into high value products – in this case essential oils. The revenue from sales of these oils self-funds the ongoing removal of the pines.
To enable this Wilding & Co. have:
- Built a unique and proprietary vacuum distillation unit, which is mobile and can be taken to the source of wilding infestation.
- Had their Douglas Fir essential oil certified as the finest of it’s kind in the world. This oil sells for $6 per gram.
- Secured a multi-million dollar export contract with Do-Terra for many thousands of kilograms of oil over 4 years.
What's Their Scale and Impact?
The Wilding & Co. business model has a virtually unlimited supply of free raw material, and is selling into a global market worth $2.7m / day. As such the scalability of the social enterprise is limited primarily by the need to secure capital to scale operations, and the importance of scaling in a managed way to maintain efficient operation and quality products.
Wilding & Co. are planning to scale to process 20,000kg of biomass per day. That’s equivalent to 500,000 Christmas-tree sized wildings a year.
Recently Wilding & Co has built a relationship with an international customer that can consume enough oil to match the size of the wilding problem in New Zealand.
How Can You Get Involved?
Communities could self-fund the continued containment of wilding pines, if locals, businesses and visitors alike used Wilding & Co. products. This local nuisance could be turned into a global opportunity. Wilding & Co. would like your support and you can help them make a difference by adding your email to their newsletter sign up on www.wilding.co.
This video tells you a bit more about Ngāti Hauā Mahi Trust, a social enterprise from Waikato working to improve our environment.