Urban Trees at the End of Life Are Turned into Valuable Products, Rather Than Chipped for Landfil

​credit – Urban Hardwoods Seattle

Across America, cities are choosing to upcycle their felled urban trees into valuable products rather than chipping them, burning them, or dumping them into the landfill.

Along with being more generally favorable to the environment, it’s a trend that’s leading to entrepreneurial innovation, as a network of urban woodworkers has coalesced around municipalities looking to do something more productive with waste lumber.

When processed, sold, and utilized to its highest value, the U.S. could produce nearly 8 billion board-feet of urban-sourced lumber annually, or around 10% of the production that the traditional lumber industry gathers from America’s forests.

An article from Pew Charitable Trusts reports that in 2018, city leaders in Harrisonburg, Virginia, began a wood utilization effort that saw felled municipal trees go into making park benches, planter boxes, and conference room desks.

The article continues in Maryland, where the Baltimore Wood Project, a U.S. Forest Service-led effort to promote urban wood reclamation, has provided more than 65,000 board-feet for city constructions of fishing piers, pedestrian bridges, and wellness centers.

Out west, West Coast Arborists are serving this cause in 350 cities across California and Arizona, lobbying for city ordinances on shade trees and other urban tree planting programs to adopt the planting of tree species with a high end-use value for the purpose of upcycling and reclamation.

Recently, West Coast Arborists began supplying lumber from felled urban trees to Taylor Guitars, who were looking for Shamel ash and red ironbark eucalyptus trees for several of their models.

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Urban Hardwoods, a Seattle-based bespoke furniture maker, runs its own sawmill for the processing of trees received through Urban Wood Network, an industry collaborator that connects municipalities, sawmills, arborists, finished goods producers, and others in a giant web of urban wood reclamation activity.

All of Urban Hardwoods’ beautiful furniture is made from trees cut down as part of the tree-surgeon work in Seattle within a 15-mile radius of the store.

Nearby, Oregon also has a program from its environmental department for the recycling of shrubs, limbs, and other wood that can’t be turned into high-end products. It instead turns them into biochar, a recently developed soil amendment that involves heating wood over fire without access to oxygen.

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When placed in soil, biochar acts like a sponge to soak up minerals and water, as well as acting as something nice, nutritious and solid for a tree or shrub to wrap its roots around.

It’s not as carbon-neutral as furniture, but making biochar and other fertilizers produces less CO2 than shredding trees into chips, burning them, or loading up a landfill.

Upcycle This Good Idea For Waste Trees With Your Friends…