The United States population uses a tremendous quantity of wood and paper products. For example, in 2005 the total consumption of timber products in the U.S. was 21.3 billion cubic feet, roundwood equivalent (Howard 2007). This equates to about 71 cubic feet per person per year—or 255 board feet of lumber products and 730 lbs of paper products per capita in the U.S. To picture this amount of material, the typical semi-truck trailer is 4,000 cubic feet, so it takes the timber product purchases of about 56 Americans to fill one semi-truck trailer. Fortunately, not all of the paper and lumber products consumed are ‘lost” from future product streams.
As described in a 2008 Dovetail Partners report (Bratkovich et al.), paper and paperboard recovery and reuse has steadily increased in the U.S. from nearly 39% in 1993 to over 56% in 2007. Also, the U.S. paper industry has set a benchmark of attaining a 60% recovery rate by 2012.
Unfortunately, accurate data is not available on the amount of solid wood products reclaimed in the U.S. The good news however is that the reuse and recycling of reclaimed solid wood is of growing interest in the United States. Also, reclaiming solid wood is important given the quantities (and quality) of “waste wood” available for reuse and recycling.
This report provides the latest information on reclaiming lumber products from two primary sources—municipal solid waste and construction and demolition waste.3 A short case study and testimonial is included to demonstrate the growing interest in and importance of reclaiming waste wood.