An initiative in the US city of Baltimore wants to salvage and reuse as much wood as possible, while also creating jobs. The Baltimore Wood Project works with partners such as the US Forest Service to rethink and reclaim wood in the city in order to reduce landfill waste, rejuvenate disused land and engage local communities.
The pilot project salvages wood from abandoned buildings and urban trees before repurposing it and reselling it locally, thereby creating a closed loop system or circular economy which has a host of environmental, economic and social benefits.
Wood accounts for more than 10% of the annual waste material in the US and, in some years, more tree and woody residue has been generated from urban areas than was harvested from national forests, according to the US Forest Service. This waste is costly for businesses that have to pay for its collection and disposal.
Post-industrial Baltimore is a particularly relevant base for the scheme, as it is estimated that there are16,000 empty properties, with some 4,000 of them marked for demolition. Some estimates even put the number of vacant lots in the city at well over 40,000.
By reclaiming both freshly-cut wood and that from abandoned properties, the Baltimore Wood Project can reduce waste; provide green materials for construction, furniture making and other sectors; and help restore and reclaim neighborhoods.