Behind The City Table: Q&A With Cambium Carbon on Their Carbon-Smart Wood (6/27/2022)

Mar 15, 2023 Krista Lee

After working on getting it just right for over a year, we're so excited to announce that we've finally launched The City Table!

Because we wanted it to fall in line with our Sabai Standards, we meticulously searched for eco-friendly and locally-sourced materials that could be crafted into a beautiful, modern, and sophisticated product. 

We partnered with Cambium Carbon to help source Carbon-Smart Wood™ for our table top. This ensures comprehensive sustainability from the start of our supply chain and fuels our circular economy goals. 

We asked Theo from Cambium for some more details about the process and benefits of harvesting Carbon-Smart Wood™: 


What is Carbon-Smart Wood™?

Carbon-Smart Wood™ comes from naturally fallen trees in US cities (i.e. not planted/harvested for its value).  

Carbon-Smart Wood™

  • is locally sourced.
  • is locally processed.
  • diverts 15 percent of profits to support high-impact tree planting.

How is it milled?

When trees first fall, more than 60 percent of their total weight is made up of water. To turn a fallen tree into usable wood, the wood has to be dried down to have a moisture content of 8 percent.

Starting with the end goal of lumber in mind, these trees are milled, air dried, and then put into our vacuum kilns to expedite drying and ensure stability. Then after reaching a stable moisture content, the lumber is taken to the manufacturer for assembly and shipping. 


What is the collection process of the trees?

We work with local arborists as well as landscape or tree service companies. Instead of taking those trees to landfill or turning them into mulch, Cambium Carbon provides an alternative avenue to give them a new life.  

What are the benefits of using Carbon-Smart Wood™?

Over 36 million trees fall in US cities each year, equaling to around 46 million tons of material that is largely mulched or taken to landfill (Nowak et al 2014). Trees cost millions of dollars to grow, plant, and maintain throughout their lives. They also cost cities and companies over $790 million annually to dispose of that material (Nowak et al 2019) (US EPA 2017). 

Carbon-Smart Wood™ reduces waste in our landfills, creates local green jobs, and encourages community tree planting in neighborhoods that need trees the most. This in turn supports and promotes tree equity across the country.


What are the benefits of local sourcing and manufacturing?

Traditional lumber supply chains are emissions intensive, and a large percentage of material comes from overseas. Local sourcing supports the utilization of the material we have right here in our backyard. As we've learned over the past few years, supply chains around the world are susceptible to shocks and delays depending on global circumstances.

Local sourcing and manufacturing can provide a more reliable supply chain with the right infrastructure and support. Additionally, local sourcing forces us to directly consider the environmental and social impact of the goods we choose to buy instead of exporting those issues to another country. 


Why do trees fall?

Trees fall for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they come down in a storm or they've reached the end of their life cycle. They could be taken down as part of a planned removal or they've become a danger to the area surrounding it. Depending on your city, your local parks and recreation department, tree service, landscaping, or arborist company may be in charge of removing downed, dangerous, or diseased trees.


Why do so many trees end up in the landfill?

Over 36 million trees fall in the US each year, with most of them ending up in the landfill or turned into mulch. Most of that material gets wasted because tree service and removal companies face incentives to get rid of their material as quickly as possible. If a local mill is not conveniently located, won't take their material, or is challenging to coordinate with, it's easier to take it to a landfill or turn it into mulch.

For so long, very few people saw value in trying to salvage wood from fallen trees because they did not look as uniform and and weren't seen as attractive. Now, that lack of uniformity is more desirable than perfect-looking wood because of how it gives character to furniture pieces. As more people become aware of this local material, we will be able to divert more fallen wood from the landfill and repurpose it to make sustainable furniture.


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