In the past, whenever trees were brought down or completely destroyed by heavy winds and storms, or even by some type of disease which ravaged whole stands of trees, those trees had to be discarded in landfills or ground up to be burned. However, a family-run sawmill in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada is showing the way for such trees to be recycled and repurposed, so they don’t go to waste.
While the business name of this facility is actually Sawmill Sid’s, it’s owner Sidney Gendron refers to it as a Tree and Wood Recovery Center. Whenever his family-run business receives in damaged or diseased trees, they are converted into useful materials for housing and construction, furniture, and sometimes even art pieces. The Sawmill Sid’s business is just one example of a whole new industry which is springing up, to reduce the amount of materials dumped in landfills by recycling them into highly desirable commercial products. This industry has a definite conservation element to it, fully intending to reduce the planet’s carbon footprint, while making maximum use of renewable resources like trees.
Aftermath of the storm
Whenever storms with high winds strike areas within trucking distance of Sawmill Sid’, trucks full of damaged trees are brought into the sawmill for re-purposing, and the number of trees damaged by such weather events can be in the thousands. When Mother Nature isn’t providing damaged wood for recycling, donations come into the sawmill from nearby cities, or from private companies who want to discard their used wood products. Already a thriving market has developed for the recycled wood produced at Sawmill Sid’s, including artisans, craftsmen, restaurateurs, developers, and renovators, many of whom want to do their part for conservation, and all of whom simply want to take advantage of products which are useful to their businesses.
Avoiding the landfill
As Sidney Gendron is well aware, it’s crucial that as much discarded wood as possible is spared from nearby landfills, or chopped up into wood chips, because these outcomes will end up releasing additional carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere, and adding to the greenhouse effect. In a single year, the re-purposed wood from Gendron’s recovery center prevented more than 7,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere, by capturing those potential emissions in re-purposed wood products.
Wood recycling in the future
Gendron and his whole family firmly believes that the future of wood recycling is extremely bright, especially since relatively few people are currently aware of the potential for re-purposing damaged trees. In another part of Canada, the Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group, headquartered in Alberta, is spearheading a drive to make government groups aware of the potential for wood recycling.
The aim of his group and other similar groups is to increase awareness of government officials, all the way down to individual citizens, about the value of recycling wood products. While it has been slow going at the outset, advocates for recycling wood fully expect that once the message gets out, people around the globe will have the same kind of interest in recycling wood as they do for materials such as plastic, bottles, and others.
Nature’s Packaging is committed to the reuse and recyclability of wood products, especially wood packaging. More than 95% of wood pallets are recovered from landfills and recycled into garden mulch, animal bedding, and other creative uses.
If Trees Had Sweating Glands to Cool Off From The Heat
During extreme heat waves it’s common for people to seek relief under the shade of a tree yet few of us wonder how trees themselves survive these extreme conditions. Researchers from the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment grew trees under controlled climate conditions to see how trees survive these harsh conditions. They discovered that leaves have their own way to survive abnormal heat by releasing water to cool themselves off. This act is very similar to the way humans sweat in order to cool our body temperature.
Over the course of one year researchers learned that trees continuously expel water through leaves when under duress caused by extreme heat. Essentially, this is how trees survive heat waves. Before this was discovered, scientists thought that photosynthesis and water expulsion were merged processes, which means for one to happen, another also needed to happen. They learned this is not the case.
Although these trees were grown in artificial conditions, they provide accurate projections of how trees will respond during extremely hot weather conditions. When trees under artificial conditions were exposed to the equivalent of a four day heat wave, during peak temperatures, trees stop sequestering carbon. On a larger scale, this means that forests, whether urban or rural, if exposed to extreme heat will stop sequestering carbon. Over time, if global temperatures continue to rise, this could have greater consequences on a forest’s ability to act as a carbon sink.
How Trees Cool Themselves
Under normal conditions, trees cool themselves by a process calls evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is the process of water evaporating from leaves when the sun’s rays hit the trees canopy. In some cases tree canopies can divert up to 60% of incoming radiation through this process. However, it can only happen when trees are healthy. If a tree is stressed due to drought or a beetle infestation then the process of evapotranspiration could be slowed or absent entirely.
In North America, more trees are planted than are harvested due to its high standards of sustainable forest management practices. When forests are healthy and sustainably managed they sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help lower global temperatures. Nature’s Packaging supports the use of sustainably sourced lumber used in wood packaging across North America.
Wood is strong, flexible, and has been used in a variety of building applications for hundreds of years because it is safe and is a renewable resource. There are many external factors that can affect trees and thus the quality of lumber they produce. These external factors can have significant impacts on the mechanical properties of wood and results in many dramatic changes such as a difference in density, growth rate, tree size and more. Annual growth rings are the rings found inside the tree and these growth rings often give environmentalists the most clues as to what journey a tree experienced in its lifetime.
Trees grow in two directions. First, they grow upwards in order to absorb more sunlight. Then they grow outward to expand in diameter as the tree matures. The upward and outer growth occurs at different times depending on the species of tree and the season.
The outer bark protects the tree from fluctuating temperatures, insects, diseases and is a tree’s first line of defense from its environment. When a tree is healthy then its bark remains intact, allowing the tree to defend itself from insect attacks such as the devastating mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Tree rings that are reflected in a cross-section of a tree are the lines that will reveal most about tree growth. Each ring resembles one year of growth. They are created because trees grow faster during certain seasons and remain dormant during other seasons like winter. These rings will differentiate in width depending on the environmental situation the tree experienced. During heavy rainfall and good environmental conditions, the year rings will be much wider compared to drought seasons where the rings are much thinner.
In some cases, trees can take up to fifty years to reach maturity in order to be harvested for commercial use. As a tree grows it sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and that carbon is stored in the wood throughout its life cycle. The carbon forms long chains that are the backbone to cellulose, which is the primary component of lumber that helps make it a strong and durable material. Many of the products and resources we use every day arrive at our local grocery stores by means of a wood pallet. Wood pallets are a safe, durable, and sustainable way to transport goods and materials needed across the world.