Pressure-treated wood has been a staple of construction and demolition since the 1950s. It is used for decking, fencing, framing...you name it. Pressure-treated wood can be recycled but only in certain circumstances. This blog post will talk about pressure-treated wood and whether or not it is recyclable.
Is pressure-treated wood recyclable? Yes, it can be recycled but only in limited circumstances. Actually, there are many different types of pressure-treated wood and each kind has to go through a unique recycling process! First though...let's talk about what 'pressure treating' is all about. Pressure-treated lumber is made by adding chemicals to the wood. The most common chemicals are chromium and copper, but arsenic is still used in some areas of the world. These chemicals prevent rot by killing off fungi that would otherwise eat away at the wood while it was exposed on a construction site or laying around your yard for years before being installed into something new. There are different types of pressure-treated wood with different kinds of chemicals. Now, let's talk about whether these types are recyclable or not:
Recycling chromium-treated lumber is possible but only if there are no contaminants in the wood (i.e., nails). It must also be free from any metal objects as well because that can interfere with the recycling process. The metal is removed, the wood chips are ground up into smaller pieces and then pressed together to form uniform blocks of recycled pressure-treated lumber!
Arsenic-treated wood can also be recycled but only if it was made by a specific company (Valspar) and used for certain purposes. This type of wood must be clean and free from any contaminants or metal objects. Similar to the process for chromium-treated lumber, arsenic-treated wood is processed into uniform blocks of recycled pressure-treated lumber!
Recycling copper-treated wood can be done but it's a little trickier than recycling either type of chromium or arsenic treatments. Copper must first be removed so that it doesn't interfere with the recycling process. Then, contaminated wood is ground up and then pressed together to form uniform blocks of recycled pressure-treated lumber!
Since there are several types of treated wood (chromium, arsenic, or copper), whether it can be recycled depends on which type was used in its construction. And no matter what kind you have, it must be free from contaminants and metal objects to be recycled!
Taking Pressure-Treated Wood to a Landfill
Some people do not want to go through the effort of recycling treated wood and instead choose to take it directly to a landfill. The main reason for this is because these materials are bulky and many landfills will charge extra money if you bring in too much waste at one time! If recycled, pressure-treated lumber can be used over and over again to make new lumber...but if it goes straight into a landfill, the chemicals are not doing anyone any good.
A second argument against taking it to a landfill is that the toxic chemicals are leaching into groundwater, which then makes its way downstream and potentially pollutes our drinking water. When you recycle pressure-treated wood (not burn it), most of these harmful materials stay in the product rather than escaping into your surroundings.
Recycling Pressure-Treated Wood
There are several options for recycling pressure-treated wood, depending on where you live and how much of the material you have. Many cities will offer curbside pick-up if you call your local hauler to make arrangements. If that's not an option in your area, check with a construction or demolition recycler who accepts used lumber; these businesses often have the equipment to break down and separate pressure-treated wood. Another option is local transfer stations, where you can drop off construction and demolition material for recycling at no cost.
How to Sell Pressure-Treated Wood
If you have pressure-treated wood, it can be a good idea to sell your materials rather than just throwing them away. Some of the reasons include making money from recycling and not having to pay for disposal or acquiring more material if needed for some other purpose in the future. It's also nice when someone else takes care of removing your waste so you don't have to worry about it. The last thing is that you get paid for items that would otherwise go straight into a landfill!
Can I Burn Pressure-Treated Wood?
Burning pressure-treated wood is a common method of disposal, but it's not an advisable one. While this practice may seem cheap and easy, you could actually be exposed to harmful chemicals through the air or in your water supply if they escape into the environment! Also when burned at high temperatures (like in a fireplace), arsenic can form dangerous particles that can be inhaled and even potentially cause cancer. For these reasons the open burning of treated lumber can be illegal.
In the past, pressure-treated lumber was typically burned due to its toxicity but now there are many ways for you to recycle your treated woods. Whether you choose to dispose of them, reuse your materials or sell them for a profit, the best thing you can do is make sure they go to a good place and not end up in our landfills.