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Behind The City Table: Q&A With Cambium Carbon on Their Carbon-Smart Wood

Oct 05, 2022 Krista Lee

We are so excited to have finally launched The City Table after more than a year of getting it just right. Because we wanted it to fall in line with our Sabai Standard, we knew we had to search for materials that were eco-friendly and locally sourced, but could still be crafted into a beautiful, modern, and sophisticated finished product. 

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


We asked Theo from Cambium to give us 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% of profits to support high-impact tree planting.

How is it milled?

When trees first fall, more than 60% of their weight is water. To turn a fallen tree into usable wood, the wood has to be dried to around 8% moisture content (as a % of total weight). Starting with the end use 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 and landscape or tree service companies who are removing trees. Instead of taking those trees to landfill or turning them into mulch, Cambium Carbon provides an avenue to turn them into their best use.  


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

Over 36 million trees fall in US cities each year--equaling around 46 million tons of material that is largely mulched or taken to landfill (Nowak et al 2014). Trees costs millions of dollars to grow, plant, and maintain throughout their lives and they 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 supports community tree planting in neighborhoods that need trees the most--supporting 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 have learned over the past years, global supply chains are also much more susceptible to global shocks and delays. Local sourcing and manufacturing can be 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 have reached the end of their life. They could be taken down as part of a planned removal or they've become dangerous. 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 US cities each year, with most 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, because wood from fallen city trees did not look as uniform as wood from the industry, very few people saw value in trying to salvage it. Now, that lack of uniformity is viewed as character and is more desirable than perfect-looking wood. As more and more people become aware of this local material, we will be able to divert more.



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