GreenYour Wood floor
Recycle wood floors
Recycling your wood floor prevents wood waste from going to the landfill where its decomposition produces greenhouse gases. It also reuses a natural resource—trees—thereby preserving the world’s forests.
How to recycle wood floors
The most efficient way to recycle your wood floorboards is to find someone who will refurbish them into new wood flooring.
- Donate your wood floor to a Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlet or other charities that need building materials.
- Contact companies that salvage used wood to manufacture new wood floors. Search your local phone book and the Internet using these key words: recycling services, recycled wood, reclaimed lumber or rediscovered wood.
- Visit Smartwood for directory of companies that use recycled wood to make new products. The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program provides certification (look for Smartwood's "Rediscovered Wood" logo) to identify wood products that use salvaged, reclaimed or recycled sources.
- Earth 911: Provides a search engine that will direct you to a wood recycling center in your area.
- The National Recycling Coalition has a resource listing at their website National Recycling Coalition - State Recycling Resources, as does the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - MSW State Data.
Recycling wood floors helps you go green because…
- It prevents wood waste from going to the landfill, where its decomposition produces greenhouse gases.
- It eliminates the need to harvest virgin trees from the world’s forests, protecting watersheds, as well as habitat for wildlife and understory plants.
- It saves energy because, generally, the steps required to supply recycled materials to industry (including collection, processing and transportation) use less energy than the steps required to supply virgin materials to industry (including extraction, transportation and processing).
In 2003, the United States generated nearly 6 million tons of wood waste that went to landfills. The decomposition of landfill wastes is the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Compared to carbon dioxide by weight, methane is almost 21 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere.
Recycling wood floors also reduces the need to harvest trees from the world’s forests. For example, salvaging 1 million board feet of reusable lumber from an old warehouse can offset the need to harvest one thousand acres of forest. The harvest of trees negatively impacts the earth’s biodiversity when habitat is destroyed and it affects the earth’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and "exhale," or release, oxygen. It's estimated that an acre of trees can grow 4,000 pounds of wood per year while consuming 5,800 pounds of carbon dioxide and producing 4,280 pounds of oxygen.
- recycled wood: Post-consumer wood that has been processed (usually by mechanical means) to be used in the manufacture of a new product.
- reclaimed lumber: Post-consumer wood that has been used for another purpose and is being salvaged for a new use. Almost all reclaimed wood is a high-grade wood as it was originally harvested from old-growth forests.
- rediscovered wood: A term used by Rainforest Alliance’s certification program to describe wood that is recovered, recycled and reused.
- Green Home Guide - Domestic Reclaimed Wood
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection - Recycling Saves Energy
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Basic Information about Wood Waste
- Environmental Protection Agency - Landfill Methane Outreach Program
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Methane
- Rainforest Alliance - SmartWood: Rediscovered Wood Program Description
- American Forest and Paper Association - Benefits of Wood Use