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May 6, 2021

Baltimore introduces new wood recycling project

A new wood recycling initiative in Baltimore is helping the city create a circular economy and new jobs through the repurposing and reselling of salvaged wood, reports the World Economic Forum.

The Baltimore Wood Project will work with partners such as the U.S. 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 plans to salvage 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.

According to the Forest Service, wood accounts for more than 10 percent of the annual waste material generated in the U.S. and, in some years, more tree and woody residue has been generated from urban areas than was harvested from national forests. 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 are 16,000 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 wood, the Baltimore Wood Project says it can reduce waste; provide green materials for construction, furniture making and other sectors; and help restore and reclaim neighborhoods.

Wood reclaimed and recycled by the project can be used for sustainable building, furniture and energy, among other uses. The project is intended to help the city achieve its aim of a sustainable future and serve as a model for creating a circular, self-reinforcing economy in urban areas.

Globally, it is estimated that transitioning to a circular economy model could generate $4.5 trillion in benefits by 2030.

The World Economic Forum is supporting moves towards creating a worldwide circular economy through collaboration on The Circulars Accelerator 2021 program.