Potential Environmental Risks of Onsite Beneficial Reuse of Ground Engineered Wood Wastes from Residential Construction study researched the beneficial reuse potential of structural engineered wood onsite as mulch. Because structural engineered wood products comprise about 30 percent of the wood waste from residential building projects and are used in all phases of construction, their beneficial reuse would divert a significant amount of material from construction & demolition landfills.
New Construction Waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste are produced annually in the United States; of this, an estimated 11 million tons per year is waste from new construction. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that about 1.7 tons of wood waste is generated during the construction of a 2,000 square-foot home.
Potential Risks of Engineered Wood Product Reuse
Potential environmental risks from ground engineered wood products include surface water contamination, changes in the chemistry or biology of the underlying soils and negative effects on plant growth. This study used rainfall simulation on replicated small test plots to determine effects of the ground engineered wood products on water quality as well as changes in soil chemistry and biology.
The results of this study indicate engineered wood product wastes can be beneficially reused onsite during construction rather than going to a landfill. The ground wood waste can be used as a landscaping mulch, for erosion control during construction, or as a substrate for a heavy use area. Mulch for landscaping should be less than three inches deep to avoid interfering with water or oxygen movement to the shallow plant feeder roots, and mulches should not be applied directly adjacent to house foundation to avoid providing a path for termites into the structure.
The Pollution Prevention Assistance Division Department of Natural Resources