By Lia Therese Feliciano, WIR Contributor

Many of us choose to build with Southern Yellow Pine for everything from our dream homes to weekend DIY projects because its aesthetic and function. And if those reasons aren’t enough to consider SYP when you’re building something, let’s talk about how sawmills that make that lumber are zero waste, carbon neutral facilities.

Aside from the lumber industry being able to manage forestlands through sustainable practices, it turns out that NONE of the byproducts resulting from the log-to-lumber process are actually wasted. The process includes cutting off branches, debarking the resulting logs and sawing them to specific dimensions.



Bark + Wood Chips + Sawdust = Zero Waste

Just from these major steps, a huge amount of byproducts are created, such as bark, sawdust, chips and shavings. These days, sawmills are able to sell bark to be used as mulch, a material used to cover soil in landscaping and gardening for multiple purposes such as retaining soil moisture. Sawdust and wood shavings, on the other hand, can be sold to farmers for bedding or to gardening and construction companies as they can also be used as mulch. Wood chips, which can be used as mulch as well, are often sold to paper companies or pulp mills.


Bark mulch. Photo via Shutterstock.

Sawmills Power Themselves

Now treated as commodities, these byproducts keep sawmills economically and environmentally sustainable. Another significant way that these wood residuals contribute to the sustainability of sawmills is by generating heat for kilns, which are often utilized in drying, a step in the process that removes moisture from the lumber. Because of the use of the process’ “waste” in energy production, a number of mills are carbon neutral, while some are even carbon negative.

Sawmills are the perfect examples of making use of wood without wasting any parts or byproducts. They prove how popular it is as a material. Want to learn more about the uses of wood? Check this infographic out to find out how wood is used in the items we use everyday.