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Wood Waste Recycling: What You Need to Know

Wood Waste Recycling: What You Need to Know

Posted by Trash Cans Unlimited on 23rd Apr 2019

You might be surprised to learn that recycling timber and lumber is a common and highly environmentally friendly practice. Wood, when treated well, can be reused in a variety of ways, as a fuel source or even finding new use in construction projects.

The reality is sobering-- 80 percent of the materials we throw away are resources, not trash. Of course, wood is not the only or even primary source of that waste, but every little bit helps. This blog post will dive into the different types of wood recycling, how to recycle wood yourself, what these products are used for, and what you can do to make the world a cleaner and more efficient place.

Types of wood waste

There are many different types of wood waste, though most sources can be reduced into several discrete categories.

Types of wood waste


The vast majority of usable wood for construction and other reclamation projects comes from demolition or stripping of materials from standing buildings. The energy savings from this process are immense--protecting forests from deforestation as well as recycling an existing product (rather than acquiring a new one). It’s reduce, reuse, and recycle, all in one. The only cost is labor--the process is time consuming.

Lumber Mills

Most lumber mills have implemented a scrap recycling program of some kind. As it helps their bottom line to get the most bang for their buck out of the products they create, there’s an incentive to recycle. Many lumber mills sell scrap to local community members or ship it to be converted into fuels or other chemicals.


A large amount of lumber, unfortunately, ends up in landfills. Extracting from landfills is difficult and time intensive, though there are researchers who are looking into and what it would take. Experts agree that landfills might be an enormous source of biofuels leading into the future.

What wood waste can be recycled into

What wood waste can be recycled into

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 17% of the total municipal waste at a given landfill is waste wood. Annually, that means there are millions and millions of tons of wood waste that can be reused or repurposed for a variety of useful functions.

  • Landscaping, mulch, and material - Waste wood can be chipped and turned into feedstock for engineered woods (for instance particle board, chip board, and MDF), landscape mulch, soil conditioner, animal bedding, compost additive, or as a sewage sludge bulking medium, just to name a few. Even if the wood in question doesn’t have a lot of structural integrity, it still can have a myriad of uses.
  • Construction materials - Like mentioned above, recycled wood can be turned into construction materials through several manufacturing processes. But very often, especially in countries where wood is a primary building product, wood can be repurposed into new structural or architectural elements. Timber can be used for non-structural elements as well, like moulding or staircase banisters. However, any recycled wood that is used as a structural element must be recertified by a lumber grading inspector.
  • Fuel - There are a variety of liquid biofuels and chemicals that can be made or extracted from recycled wood, though it will depend on the condition of the stock. However, wood can nearly always be burned in a wood stove to fulfill a basic human need--warmth.

How to recycle wood waste

How to recycle wood waste

Now, how can you start recycling wood yourself? If you’re just looking for disposal of wood waste or wood chip recycling, a quick Google search for waste recycling facilities or wood recycling should point you in a good direction with a minimum of effort (try “how to recycle wood waste”). Unfortunately, your mileage may vary based on where you’re living.

Now, if you’re looking to trade scrap wood for cash or recycle wood for money, your options may end up being even more limited, but don’t be discouraged! There are tools and methods to find what you’re looking for. Recycle Finder can be a great tool for locating the perfect place to trade that scrap into cold hard cash.

Other benefits of wood recycling

One of the other benefits of both government and individual choices revolving around wood recycling is that other materials get rolled up in the process as well. When someone starts wood waste recycling, other materials like stone and concrete often get wrapped up as a sort of package deal with the process.

As with many energy efficient processes, the result is often a better and cleaner environment for everyone!

Finding the best disposal solution for you

Now we’ve covered the where and why, what’s the best way to start wood recycling?

Well, the first thing to determine is where your potential sources of wood will come from. Now, if you’ve got a construction project going at home, you can just work with a pile of wood, and transport it away when you’re all done. But, if you’re looking to start salvaging and gathering materials, getting in touch with local companies and offering to haul away scrap can be a good start. Keeping a keen eye out for piles of lumber waste is a great way to keep a constant source of scrap material coming in.

And, in this case, you’ll need to have a solution for sorting waste lumber. We can help. Trashcans Unlimited has an enormous supply of trash cans, waste bins, and storage containers that will help you organize and store all of your scrap or to-be recycled lumber. Our recycling section is fully stocked with awesome products to make a task like this easy! We’ve got an excellent customer service team who will help you find what you’re looking for. Browse our products, or get in touch with any questions you might have.