Thanks to the NewWood Manufacturing Corporation, a recently established wood products company, there are 150 new jobs in this coastal county. For many Grays Harbor residents who have suffered through years of high unemployment caused by the decline of the timber industry, it’s welcome news.
An AWB member since December 2010, NewWood is located at the Satsop Development Park, in Elma. The company takes locally sourced wood and plastic landfill waste and brings it to its 275,000 square-foot facility, a former Boise Cascade plant that closed in 2006, where it is converted into recycled building materials that are redefining the construction industry.
“Putting workers and materials that were considered throwaways by others into a recycled product at a re-opened factory is the very definition of the 21st Century sustainability economy,” said John Bowser, NewWood’s CEO.
With NewWood in full operation, Southwestern Washington is starting to feel a positive economic ripple effect.
Wilson Recycling provides three tons of plastic lumber wrap and hay bale covers to NewWood each week from its Shelton facility, creating a market in the Northwest where one never existed.
“Before NewWood, the market was stagnant,” said Scott Wilson, president of Wilson Recycling, who plans on creating three new jobs in response to NewWood’s business. “Overseas markets were buying, but the price was so low that it made more sense for people to burn or bury their waste or just pay the fees at the landfill. NewWood’s entry into the market has made it viable for us to sell.”
In addition to improving the local economy, NewWood is also committed to improving the environment. The company:
- Uses recycled pens and paper inside its factory
- Prints its marketing materials on high- grade recycled paper
- Uses LEED certified toxin-free cleaning products throughout its facility
- Encourages employees to bring in plastic waste for recycling; and
- Maximizes truck trips by sending its recycling company back to its facility with a load of cardboard, glass, aluminum and batteries after delivering recycled raw materials at NewWood.
The company has also found a way to recycle one of Grays Harbor County’s best-known landmarks — the abandoned nuclear plant cooling towers at Satsop, closely adjacent to New Wood’s plant. Now the towers supply the plant with the water it needs to operate.
“This is a truly an exciting time for our company,” said Bowser. “After all these months of hard work and preparation, it is extremely gratifying to see it all come to fruition.”