Four recycling bins lined up in a park

Recycling wood

Learn about the impact of recycling wood on sustainability and resource conservation.

Wood is a renewable resource

We’ve asked this before, but did you know that wood is a renewable resource? Trees can be planted and regrown over and over again for generations to come. Choosing to recycle your wood items extends the life of that item and can result in energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

To get more scientific, about 50% of the dry weight of trees is made up of carbon. Carbon is taken up by plants during the process of photosynthesis. This means that every item in your home that is made of wood is storing carbon absorbed from our atmosphere and helping to tackle climate change.

And did you know that most wood processing facilities in Australia utilise their ‘waste’ as biofuel. You may be surprised how circular the wood processing industry can be.

A small, blue tiny library

How can I recycle my wood items?

Recycling isn’t always straightforward. We know that. It just takes a little time and consideration. Check with your council and always look for recycling labels on your products. Making sure your recyclable, untreated wood goes to the right facility means that it can be processed and turned into something new like mulch, paper, or even the materials that build our homes.

Has your wooden chopping board finally worn out? Check with your council and recycle it to give it a second life.

And recycled wood products are not low quality like you might have heard. Some companies even prioritise recycled wood in their production processes.

Shadow cast across a butchers's cabinet filled with trinkets

Recycle vs Upcycle – and what can you do for your community?

Both recycling and upcycling contribute to energy savings, job creation, and the manufacture of unique, aesthetically appealing products that emphasize the economic, social, and environmental values of embracing a circular approach to wood usage.

While you already know what recycling is, have you considered upcycling your older or dated items? Putting on some paint or new hardware can give old pieces a new life and gain them a fresh spot in your living space.

Don’t have the time to sand, stain, and be creative? Donate an old piece from seasons past to keep it alive and in circulation. You never know… someone might be diving into their Mid-century Era as we speak. There are several charities that accept furniture donations too. So, give them a call and arrange a pickup before tossing out that old bookshelf.

Wood products in use in Australia currently contain ninety-seven million tonnes of carbon stored. Why not keep that carbon locked up?

Stack of cardboard

Don’t forget about paper… and pizza

Australia is a world-leader when it comes to paper and cardboard recycling rates. Recycling your paper and cardboard can nearly half the impact its production has on the environment. And yes, you can recycle those pizza boxes too.

What about books? Donate those tales to schools or humanitarian organisations or pop them into your local tiny library.

Pink fabric with clothing tag that reads: 100% lyocell

Innovation – Out with the old and INTO the new

Recycling wood is a key aspect of sustainable resource management and contributes to a circular economy. Recycled wood and its byproducts are often used to make brand new, innovative materials. Those materials can then be used in sustainable construction practices, promoting the use of carbon storing materials in our building projects. Learning more about renewable wood and the products we can make from it empowers you to choose sustainable materials when you buy.

Reclaimed wood from buildings and other projects can even be made into pulp then washed and turned into a fabric. That is two opportunities to make a sustainable choice and one of them being a brand-new outfit for your closet. More brands are choosing wood-based fibres like Lyocell to make their clothes. So, why not add something sustainable to your wardrobe today?

Stack of wood in landfill

So, what about landfill?

We always say that wood stores carbon for life, and we mean that. Even in landfill. This means that when you can no longer recycle or reuse them, wood products can still offer climate advantages. When recycled or repurposed, the wood retains its carbon content. If utilized for renewable energy production, it often displaces the need for fossil fuels. And even if it ends up in a landfill, nearly all the carbon becomes sequestered, with only 1.4% of the carbon in wood in landfills being released into the atmosphere.

You can still avoid landfill when it comes to yard waste though. Compost your twigs and branches or contact your local council about a green waste bin.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about the circular benefits of wood, a few recycling tips, and how you can make climate-conscious choices through wood… what wood pieces will you be adding to your collection? Share these tips and info about the long-lasting climate benefits of wood with your mates.

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