One of the most overlooked renewable resources is wood, which could be argued to be one of the most underutilized.
In short, yes, but in reality it is slightly more complicated than that.
Materials that can be recycled can be used multiple times, but must undergo a process (either from humans or nature) to be re-used. Wood waste can’t be placed curbside with other recyclables, but if brought to a wood recycling facility, it can be recycled.
This facility does not let wood become a sadly wasted resource, but instead grinds it down into a size that can be useful to others. Usually, this means they will turn it into wood chips and mulch (used in landscaping), but wood can also be processed into other items, such as sawdust (used in animal bedding), plywood, and particleboard.
Recycling toilet paper is actually made from tree paper. Alternatively, bamboo toilet paper and bamboo wet wipes can be equally as sustainable.
As with any recycling center, wood recycling criteria can vary between processors.
Their equipment can be damaged by contaminants, such as leaves, plants, dirt, rock, concrete, plastic, and metal. In general, they only accept wood that is free of contaminants. Meanwhile, others may accept them and charge more for performing the separation.
Different Types of Wood Recycling
Since the recycling stream is intended to be clean and residue-free, only untreated wood can be recycled. Here are some wood types you should not recycle:
- Treated wood
- Lacquered or stained wood
- Painted wood
- Wood otherwise contaminated with chemicals
The majority of wooden furniture cannot be recycled (since it usually falls into these categories), however
The best wood for recycling is clean wood like timber, stumps, and limbs. There are other types of wood waste that can be recycled, including:
- Yard waste: brush, roots, wood shavings, pruned branches, sawed lumber, whole trees from your yard, and Christmas trees
- Untreated wood: wood trim, used lumber, pallets used for shipping, and wood debris from construction and demolition
How to Use (and Reuse) Recycled Wood
Wood can be recycled without being brought to a wood recycling facility. The best methods for recycling wood are as follows:
Add it to compost.
Carbon-rich material like untreated wood or yard scraps is needed to make excellent compost that is nutrient-rich.
Turn it into mulch or wood chips.
Untreated wood or tree branches can be chopped up into mulch for your garden, or ground into animal bedding for stables or small cages. Just be sure to cut it outdoors and wear protective gear when you do.
Additionally, wood can be upcycled into new furniture or home goods, including refashioning it. When it comes to broken furniture, shipping pallets, and fence panels that can also be repurposed into craft projects, creativity is the limit.
How to Dispose of Wood that Cannot Be Recycled
Wood that cannot be reused or recycled due to the use of chemicals, in particular, should be disposed of at your local landfill.
Toxic metals used in construction projects from the 20th century, such as lead and chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic, are now banned.
Burning painted, varnished, or treated wood is dangerous. When heated, toxic chemicals are released. As a result, burned wood should never be used in fireplaces or fire pits.
How to Dispose of Wood that Can Be Recycled
By preparing your wood, you’ll be able to recycle it easily. Sand off the paint and remove metal materials before bringing the wood in.
How to Dispose of Wood that Can Be Composted
Curbside yard waste collection is available in many cities, but the requirements vary by city, so make sure to check with your local waste management company.
Yard waste and compost can be put in a special recycling bin provided by the company. It might also be necessary for you to cut the tree branches to a specific size. There may still be a compost facility in your town if your city does not offer curbside pickup.
Effective Ways to Reduce Wood Waste
Large objects can be difficult to get rid of in an ethically sustainable way. Get rid of stress where it comes from. Below are some suggestions for reducing wood waste.
When it comes to your next home improvement or gardening project, use woods that naturally resist rot (such as redwood, cedar, or white oak) to eliminate the need for treated wood.
Maintain wood products by sealing cracks and joints and repairing them as necessary.
When possible, use salvaged or recycled wood for home projects.
Invest in higher quality wood products that are repairable and don’t have to be thrown away or replaced. Select wood that is sustainably harvested.