Partners in Project Green Helps Divert Infested Ash Trees Away from Landfill

Posted July 31, 2014

Hundreds of businesses and municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area are forced to dispose of infested Ash trees as a result of the increased spread of Emerald Ash Borer. According to LEAF, the City of Toronto will lose nearly all of its 860,000 ash trees by 2017. As hard as it is to accept the inevitable destruction of the Ash tree population in Ontario, what does this all mean for an organization? It comes down to increased removal, disposal and transportation costs with much of the end product (mulch) going to landfill. Canadian Forest Service scientists “estimate that costs for treatment, removal and replacement of trees affected by emerald ash borer in Canadian municipalities may reach $2 billion over a 30-year period”. Partners in Project Green was unwilling to accept this as the only answer, and so the search for a solution began through the Materials Exchange Program!

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The Materials Exchange Program (a program that connects businesses and solution providers together and facilitates exchanges to ensure materials can avoid landfill) was already familiar with the ash tree problem since the fall of 2013 as it had convened a roundtable with several municipalities to discuss and share knowledge on waste disposal plans associated with infected ash trees. Plans included solutions like mulching and composting, which often end up in landfill. None really extracted the highest value from the tree, using its wood to create lumber which would be an ecologically sound solution.

Pilot Project Demonstration – July 26th

This past Saturday July 26, 2014, the three organizations got together to demonstrate that infested ash trees can be converted into useable lumber, on a commercial scale – all right on-site, removing transportation and storage challenges.

Bentall Kennedy repurposing ash trees pilot project   Bentall Kennedy repurposing ash trees pilot project

Photo 1: Mill Demonstration with Sawmill Sid
Photo 2 (left to right): Steve Rhone (Weston Forest Products), Sydney Gendron (Sawmil Sid), Sheila Gendron (Sawmil Sid), Linda Sketchley (Bentall Kennedy), Jaime Carnevale (Partners in Project Green), Alex Dumesle (Partners in Project Green), Rodrigo Llagas (Bentall Kennedy)

Click here to see CBC News video coverage of Saturday’s demonstration:

Creating lumber makes business sense, as the higher value of the wood can be shared across the value chain, reducing costs for everyone involved from the tree owner, the miller, and the lumber producer. Trees processed on-site also brings greater cost savings.

Click here to see Construction Canada’s coverage for the demonstration.

The Perfect Match!

Over the last few months, staff were pursuing viable options and recently came across three organizations that were all willing to pursue a pilot project to solve the disposal of infested Ash trees that not only was cost effective, but environmentally sustainable.

Bentall Kennedy + Sawmill Sid + Weston Forest Products
Sustainable, Economical & Innovative Solution

1) Supplier of Trees: Bentall Kennedy

Michelle Brown from Bentall Kennedy chairs the Partners in Project Green Waste Management Performance Team (a team that pushes forward waste management projects in the Pearson Eco-Business Zone through pilot projects).

The topic of infested Ash trees was on the agenda at their last meeting. The potential for a pilot demonstration was discussed as Bentall Kennedy was dealing with the removal of infested trees on many of their properties. They offered their 10 Carlson Court site as a testing ground for this innovative solution.

2) Provider of Onsite Solution: Sawmill Sid

Partners in Project Green was introduced to Sid Gendron from Sawmill Sid at the Green Living Show. They kept in contact and discussed the various solutions available with dealing with infested trees. When the opportunity for Bentall Kennedy came up, it was a natural fit to have Sawmill Sid mill the infested trees.

3) Distributor of End Product: Weston Forest Products

As a Partners in Project Green member, The Materials Exchange Program reached out to Steve Rhone from Weston Forest Products as they distribute and re-manufacture lumber and plywood products. They were happy to participate and will distribute the lumber into the Ontario market.

Next Steps

The Partners in Project Green Materials Exchange Program is still on the search to help organizations who are dealing with the disposal of infested ash trees. Staff are continuing to look for additional providers and distributors to assist with this ecological solution.

Do you have infested trees or do you have a need for lumber?
Contact the Materials Exchange Program!
Jaime Carnevale
Materials Exchange Program Coordinator
416-661-6600 x5943

Partners in Project Green thanks Bentall Kennedy, Sawmill Sid and Weston Forest Products for taking part in this pilot project demonstration and being leaders for sustainable innovation!