More News:

May 24, 2024

Philly's fallen trees are being turned into building material at Fairmount Park

A new 'reforestation hub' is part of the city's plan to divert more than 90% of waste from landfills by 2035.

Environment Trees
Tree upcycling Philly Provided image/Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

About 36 million trees fall in the U.S. each year, and most are either burned or sent to landfills. Philadelphia is now upcycling its downed trees at a new 'reforestation hub' in Fairmount Park.

Philadelphia is now salvaging fallen trees and turning them into building material at a new lumberyard in Fairmount Park.

This "reforestation hub" at the park's existing organic recycling center collects trees that have fallen due to disease, development, natural disasters or decay, and transforms them into carbon-negative building material. The initiative will not only create jobs, but help the city hit its sustainability goals, Parks & Recreation officials said. Philadelphia is aiming to divert 90% of its waste from landfills by 2035.

MORE: SEPTA's overhauled bus routes approved after 2 years of public hearings and revisions

"Currently, we have too much biomass that is being wasted. Transforming our fallen trees into high-quality lumber allows us to address this issue and many others simultaneously," Parks & Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson said. "With this project, we're reducing urban wood waste, cutting carbon emissions, saving money on tree removal and providing valuable job training for our residents."

The work is a form of upcycling, or transforming waste or unwanted items into new materials. The city says the building material can be used for construction, tree stakes, decking and furniture.

PowerCorpsPHL is operating the reforestation hub as part of its wider "green collar" workforce development program. The goal is to provide Philadelphia residents ages 18-30 with training that will help them land jobs in the energy or green infrastructure sectors. Once the lumber is processed, Cambium, a private company, introduces it into supply chains for purchase. A 15% cut of the proceeds will be earmarked for TreePhilly to plant new trees in an effort to expand Philadelphia's tree canopy. The city is aiming to boost its existing canopy from 20% to 30% in each neighborhood by 2035.

According to Parks & Rec, the hub has diverted 678 trees from landfills and created 68,120 board feet of wood since December 2023. It also has taken on two trainees, one of whom now has full-time employment with the city.

Follow Kristin & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @kristin_hunt | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Have a news tip? Let us know.