Innovative public-private partnership looks to salvage fallen city trees as a vehicle for job training, carbon storage, and reinvestment in community

[Philadelphia, July 11, 2022] A new initiative launched by partners Cambium Carbon, PowerCorpsPHL, Urban Wood Economy, and Philadelphia’s Department of Parks & Recreation (PPR) has been awarded a $277,000 grant by the City of Philadelphia’s Operations Transformation Fund. 

While more than 60,000 tons of wood and yard waste are estimated to be generated in Philadelphia each year, a 2019-2020 study found that less than 8% is recycled at the city’s Organic Recycling Center (ORC) in Fairmount Park. The “Reforestation Hub” pilot aims to mill salvageable logs into lumber, while providing several associated climate and social impacts.

The $277,000 funding award will be used to purchase sawmill equipment, and provide critical support in developing the job training program and operation staffing. The pilot aims to recycle more than 20% of the ORC’s logs in its first year.

“The Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center is currently inundated with logs from tree removals and wood debris generated through active urban forest management. We believe there is a real financial opportunity in converting this waste stream into valuable wood products, and are excited to be part of this innovative pilot.”

Marc Wilken, Director of Business and Event Development for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

The operation looks to not only reduce the current burden on Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s disposal infrastructure, but also create value from the wood waste stream. Sales of salvaged wood will sustain an ongoing job training program, while providing a source of revenue to support urban forest regeneration. A minimum 15% of all profits from salvaged wood sales will be reinvested in local tree planting and maintenance through the TreePhilly program. 

“The Reforestation Hub is a model for the circular economy’s potential to benefit people and the planet,” said Marisa Repka, Co-Founder & CFO of Cambium Carbon. “Roughly 50% of a tree’s biomass is carbon. Through this pilot, we can keep that carbon stored in lumber, rather than released into the atmosphere – all while creating economic value and meaningful careers.”

PowerCorpsPHL will staff the lumber yard concession within the ORC. The initiative, operated by EducationWorks, provides paid training programs and pathways to community-based careers. In eight years of operations, the organization has engaged over 800 young people and provided over 800,000 service hours to the city’s park system and green infrastructure. 

Site construction is currently underway, and full-time operations will launch in early 2023. Salvaged wood generated through the program will be sold and distributed regionally via Cambium Carbon’s Traece platform.

About Cambium Carbon

Cambium Carbon uses technology to build local, regenerative, wood supply chains. By turning fallen urban trees into valuable wood products, the company creates waste-to-value revenues to restore local canopies. Cambium Carbon has two goals: to create positive, long-term climate impact and to benefit communities today. Learn more about the company’s work and mission at www.cambiumcarbon.com.   

Contact:

Natasha Main

Director of Impact Partnerships

natasha@cambiumcarbon.com 

cambiumcarbon.com

About PowerCorpsPHL

PowerCorpsPHL is an AmeriCorps workforce development organization that engages out-of-school or out-of-work 18- to 30-year-olds in immersive, paid programs that result in connections to living wage jobs in energy, green infrastructure, and community-based careers. Learn more at https://powercorpsphl.org/

Contact:

Carlos Alvarez

Director of Social Enterprise Operations

calvarez@educationworks.org

Powercorpsphl.org

About Philadelphia Parks & Recreation 

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through intentional and sustained stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways as well as through hundreds of safe, stimulating recreation, environmental and cultural centers. To learn more, visit www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram  

Contact:

Marc Wilken

Director of Business and Event Development

marc.wilken@phila.gov 

www.phila.gov/parksandrec