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Can You Put Wood in the Recycle Bin? (Plus 7 Alternatives)

Can You Put Wood in the Recycle Bin? (Plus 7 Alternatives)

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Not too long ago, we decided to sign up for curbside recycling at our home. We were already taking our recyclables to the local recycling center, but we thought the added convenience justified the cost.

In the past, we never recycled wood. But with the new curbside service, and with living on two acres with plenty of potentially recyclable wood, we figured it was worth looking into.

Since paper is recyclable, and paper comes from trees, one would think that wood is also safe to recycle. Well, before you start adding your lumber, or even your yard waste, to your recycling bin, let me show you what I’ve found.

Can You Recycle Wood?

Generally speaking, wood cannot be recycled via curbside recycling. Although paper is made from wood, and paper is safe to recycle, most recycling centers are not prepped to handle wood.

Most recycling centers only accept household items, like mixed papers, plastics, etc. After being picked up from your home, they go to a sorting center where they are separated by material. These sorting centers are not equipped to handle wood.

Another problem with wood is that a lot of it is treated or finished. Even if a sorting center could handle wood, it would be very difficult to accurately sort out the treated or finished wood, which isn’t safe to put through the recycling process.

All is not lost though. There are a couple of potential options when it comes to recycling wood. The first is to check with your trash and recycling service provider to see if they offer curbside pickup for wood, either on a specific day of the month or certain times during the year.

The other option is to take your wood to a local recycling center that accepts wood. There are hundreds of these locations throughout the United States, so chances are good that you can find one in your area.

What to Do With Old Wood

If you don’t have a wood recycling center in your area, don’t worry. There are plenty of alternative uses for your unneeded wood.

1 – Repurpose It

One of the best options for old wood is to repurpose it. Wood is known as a building material for a reason, and that’s because it’s great for building various structures.

Wood is perfect for creating various decorative structures in your garden. It’s also great for making furniture, like tables and chairs.

2 – Create Mulch

Another great option for old wood is to shred it to create mulch to use in your garden. This not only gets rid of your unwanted wood, but also improves the health of your plants. Just make sure your wood is untreated.

3 – Add It to Your Compost Pile

Aside from shredding your wood to create mulch, you can also shred it and add it to your compost pile. Wood is considered a brown material as it is rich in carbon, so it makes for a perfect item to add to balance out your nitrogen-rich materials.

Again, just be sure to only use untreated wood.

4 – Sell It

Like I mentioned earlier, wood is considered a building material. As such, there are a lot of uses for it, and it’s not usually too difficult to find someone who will throw you a few bucks for it.

Unlike the last two options mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your wood has been treated when selling it.

5 – Give It Away

If you can’t find a buyer for your wood, or you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of listing it for sale, simply give it away. You can put a “Free” sign on it at the end of your driveway, or call around to some local companies, like a garden and decor business.

6 – Burn It

If you have the right type of property, and your local ordinances allow it, you can always add your spare wood to your fire pit. This is a great way to enjoy a fire without having to pay for the wood.

When burning wood, it’s very important that you make sure the wood is natural. This means you shouldn’t use wood that’s been pressure treated, painted, stained, or treated in any other way (such as to resist water).

Ideally, just stick to yard waste, like fallen limbs and twigs.

7 – Take It to a Hazardous Waste Facility

If your wood is treated, painted, or finished in any way, your best option might be to take it to a hazardous waste facility. A hazardous waste facility will take your wood off of your hands for a small fee.

Some of them, like one in our area, don’t even charge you unless you’re a business.

Final Thoughts

While wood isn’t safe to recycle along with your household recyclables in your curbside pickup, you do have options for recycling. Even if these options don’t work for you, there are plenty of alternative methods for reusing, or disposing of, wood.

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