Although a nature lover’s natural instinct is to preserve the life of trees, there are times when a tree may need to be cut down. Reasons could include a tree being diseased or dead, or it posing a threat to other trees, animals or people due to being unstable or damaged by weather. On these occasions, a professional tree surgeon is usually hired to perform the task, which is likely to result in a lot of green waste being left over.
Fortunately, this waste can be of great use from a recycling perspective and so the loss of the tree can ultimately have some benefits. In this article we outline the ways in which green waste can be recycled, and what you can do with any green waste that you have.
What is green waste?
Many people may not know what is actually meant by green waste. Green waste is essentially all of the materials that are left over after a tree has been prune, trimmed or felled by a tree surgeon. As opposed to brown waste, which is high in carbon, green waste is high in nitrogen – making it a biodegradable waste.
‘Green waste’ is the umbrella term for all of the matter, but upon closer inspection the waste can actually be separated and tends to fall into 3 categories of product: timber, woodchip, and non-chippable waste. Each of these types of matter has different properties and needs to be recycled in a different way.
Large chunks of wood left from felling or pruning are often useful, and so anything can be salvaged as a log or similarly-sized piece of wood is recycled in its own way. Often, the owner of the tree will request to keep the logs of timber themselves, as the wood can come in handy for firewood. It may even be used in a much more creative way, and turned into beams or other pieces of furniture. If the owners of the tree don’t have any need for the timber, then tree surgeons will often be able to find other people who are happy to receive it for similar purposes.
Pieces of wood that aren’t big enough to be classified as logs are often passed through the chipper and turned into woodchip. Much more manageable in size, woodchip has many uses once recycled. It is often used in gardening to line borders or pathways, either in people’s personal gardens or also allotments or vegetable patches. Similarly, woodchip is often used as ‘mulch’. Once it has decomposed for a time, it is placed on top of soil to prevent weeds and improve the fertility of the ground.
Finally, in every pile of green waste there will be materials that are not suited to the chipper. Certain branches, leaves and even miscellaneous pieces of grit can all find their way into green waste and need to be recycled in a different way to timber and woodchip. This sort of waste usually has to be shredded or made into pulp by an industrial machine – thus tree surgeons will often wait until they have acquired a lot of it before putting it through this process. Once that has been done, however, non-chippable waste can be of huge amounts of use and is often sent to fuel stations to be used as biomass.
If you find have need for a tree surgeon (I recommend using treesurgeon.org.uk) then you should check beforehand whether they will take responsibility for recycling the green waste – most will. If not, then contacting another tree surgeon or environmental advisor is the best idea in order to make the most of the waste product. Biodegradable waste of this nature can be hugely beneficial to the environment so should always be put to use and never left to rot in a landfill.